When Colin Kaepernick took a stand by kneeling during the National Anthem of a National Football League pregame matchup on Aug. 26, 2016, a nationwide debate began. Since then he has been leading a movement on social issues that I feel should be addressed, while the former 49er believes this movement is why he’s unemployed.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 26. “To me, this [police brutality] is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
What started with one man has spread across the entire league. However, Kaepernick remains a free agent this season, while countless other less-talented quarterbacks such as Ryan Mallett and Drew Stanton still have jobs.
This led to the former 49er to file a collusion grievance against the team owners for keeping him out of the league.
According to thehill.com, a Capitol Hill publishing company out of Washington, D.C., the official complaint stated multiple league head coaches and general managers expressed interest in signing Kaepernick, but without explanation changed their minds, while others refused to give reasons for not wanting him.
Talk in the media last week says Kaepernick was invited to an upcoming meeting between NFL players and owners in November, but according to Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos, he was never invited. In fact, Geragos said Kaepernick wanted to be included, but it appears the collusion grievance might be responsible for his possible ban from meetings.
Over the weekend, ESPN.com stated Kaepernick received an invitation to meet one-on-one with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and that the former 49er hadn’t responded yet. However, Geragos told ABC News they received and accepted the invite, but requested a mediator present because of the grievance.
It started when President Donald Trump’s big mouth made the situation worse in September, when he labeled NFL players who kneel during the anthem as “sons of bitches,” giving players another reason not to stand.
It doesn’t sound that far-fetched. We have already witnessed the influence this unorthodox president has had on the United States since the start of his presidency, why wouldn’t it extend to the NFL? Thankfully, his attempt to force players to stand or face penalty and punishment was rejected.
Why do we stand for the National Anthem? Theoretically, there could be several possibilities depending on personal perspective, but generally speaking, we stand to honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. The flag not only reflects our system of government, but it’s symbolic of the unity in this country. We stand for justice because we are Americans, but mainly we stand in respect for those who fought for us and can no longer stand on their own. At the same time, why does it mean so much more when athletes choose to kneel? Fans sit, wear hats, don’t cover their heart and talk through the anthem without so much as a dirty look. I myself have been in the middle of delicious nachos and chose to finish my food instead of standing, and meant nothing by it.
Critics assert that Kaepernick was disrespectful, but if you think about it, people are just upset this protest was in a different direction. The whole premise behind his refusal to stand was because of his respect for African Americans and minorities in the U.S.
As a female minority, I empathize with Kaepernick and respect what he’s doing to support this movement. However, there are downsides. For example, refusing to stand can easily be taken as disrespecting the flag and those who fought for the freedom it stands for. So it’s understandable how someone patriotic might get upset by the act of kneeling during the anthem.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like resentment is going to subside soon, especially with this lawsuit. By filing, he essentially did the same thing as taking a knee, only changing the focus to league owners and taking the peaceful protest to the courtroom.
Despite the rumors, Kaepernick’s attorney Geragos believes proving collusion against the owners will be easier than some have speculated. According to Mike Florio, a previous attorney who is now an NFL reporter, collusion could occur if a team or its employees reach an agreement about not attempting to sign the former star.
Florio believes the agreement would only need to be implied, and the reasoning behind the collusion is irrelevant. Claiming that team owners could say something as little as, “we can’t have that,” or “that’s bad for business,” would qualify as the “smoking gun” Geragos is looking for to prove his case.
My bet is the owners either didn’t believe a collusion grievance would apply to them or they did not think Kaepernick would have the guts to go up against the entire NFL and its owners. They shouldn’t have doubted him after attempting to make a mockery out of him and his actions last year. Instead of making him an example, they helped him set one, causing more players to kneel in protest.
It would be silly for anyone to assume that word doesn’t spread through the league, because it would only take one conversation between two teams to prove withholding him from the NFL. Now rightfully offended, he believes that’s the reason he’s not playing the game he loves — and I agree with him.