Colin Kaepernick, the free-agent quarterback turned athlete activist, partnered with Ben & Jerry’s to debut a new ice cream flavor on Thursday. NFL November 29 NFL rules wouldn’t allow Colin. Colin Kaepernick was the turning point for this generation of athletes. In 2016, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games to protest racial.
The killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers has created a surprising flashpoint, an acknowledgement by previously disbelieving white people of the violence historically inflicted upon African Americans and a sudden, jarring suggestion that America is ready to deal directly with the terrible truths that violence has entailed: Police treat black citizens harshly with devastating consequences. Prosecutors are reluctant to charge police. Juries are even more reluctant to convict them. In the rare case of a conviction, judges are unwilling to punish them with firm prison sentences -- if any jail time at all. Corporations across the country, including now the NFL, have pledged solidarity with their black citizens, seeking to reflect harmony by using the term 'Black Lives Matter.' Since the inception of the term, law enforcement agencies have co-opted it with their own 'Blue Lives Matter' while attempting to link the original with domestic terrorism -- a characterization that those same corporations using the term now did little to refute then.
Included prominently in the nationwide protests is the gesture of taking a knee toward the American flag. It's a distress signal indicating that the country has not lived up to the democratic ideals it spreads across the globe -- ideals it tells soldiers that their uniforms and flag represent, ideals Americans believe separate them from countries that jail, kill and otherwise silence their citizens. It is Colin Kaepernick's symbol, and it is used everywhere -- by children and high school students who reference him as their inspiration, and now by police and politicians to quell public anger directed at them to suggest finally, after so much time, a willingness to listen.
It is also the symbol NFL owners used as justification to destroy Kaepernick's NFL career. In 2017, it was the NFL that sent the message nationwide that kneeling was illegitimate, and by extension, criticism of police. Three years later, the NFL carries the greatest burden of any sports league to rectify the damage it now admits it has done.
Colin Kaepernick said he wants to abolish police and prisons in a new essay published on Medium this week. In the piece, the free agent NFL quarterback looks back at the 2016 decision to kneel.
Years before rioters stormed the Capitol, a crowd that allegedly included cops, Colin Kaepernick spoke of, no, he warned of the abuse of power by police. Kaepernick wasn't the first to ring those. As you know, Kaepernick's been outspoken about police brutality for years, and began silently protesting by taking a knee during The National Anthem while playing for the 49ers in 2016.
After the sloganeering and statements, the NFL serves as a microcosm of the corrections Americans are now expecting. Kaepernick is not vindicated because he is still being punished. Nor did he reveal something black people did not know. He was punished for supporting them.
The league must answer the question of today's moment: Is this a reckoning, or is it a dance? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a recorded statement Friday night attempting to reconcile with players in response to a video players released Thursday night featuring Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes and several others demanding acknowledgement on the part of the NFL that their protests be taken seriously. But like other corporations across the country that have decried violence, racism and intolerance while barely mentioning police, Goodell offered condolences to the families affected by police brutality without acknowledging the reason people are in the streets in the first place: They want it to end.
At issue is whether Americans will undertake the journey of truth, a journey for which they have typically lacked the stamina and willpower to complete. From sports to Hollywood to politics -- but predictably not from police unions -- the corporate statements to engage have written a large and prominent contract with the public. But the omissions have not gone unnoticed, undermining the legitimacy of the sentiments that have captured the country. If the term 'police brutality' is so incendiary that it cannot be said, how can anyone be taken seriously when they say they want to fight it?
Goodell's statement also did not mention the name 'Kaepernick,' the surest sign yet that the NFL is unserious about the actual work that needs to be done to make this right. Goodell apologized for the NFL not listening to players, and even this basic, ostensibly conciliatory statement is false. The NFL did listen to players. It listened to Malcolm Jenkins. It listened to Anquan Boldin. It listened to white players, such as Drew Brees and its white ex-players-turned-broadcasters, such as Boomer Esiason, who were offended by Kaepernick's position. It listened to its white fans. The NFL did a lot of listening -- and concluded the course of action was to punish black people -- which they have not undone. Even when trying to reach the truth, Goodell still could not tell it.
Confronting the truth about racism and its effects is when America is not at its aspirational best, but its defiant, denying worst; it fails looking in the mirror at its true self in ways in which Germany and South Africa have succeeded. America has not yet proved it is willing to put in the hard work. Goodell's statement might have helped the NFL win the short-term battle to mollify its young stars of tomorrow, but it will lose in the long term because it is not Watson or Mahomes or Odell Beckham Jr. who require the apology. Gta chinatown android highly compressed. It is Colin Kaepernick.
The NFL heard a warning that America was fraying, and in response constructed an entire machine to undermine Kaepernick -- and became an active partner in dividing the nation. Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula conceived of the organization that would become the Players Coalition, led by Jenkins and Boldin, when he felt the league needed a player-run, black-player-headed organization to address injustice issues to neutralize Kaepernick's influence. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross amplified it. Goodell and the NFL increased restrictions and penalties on kneeling demonstrations. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones threatened the employment of any player who knelt. And, of course, all 32 teams followed suit.
Part of that machine was Jay-Z at a roundtable with Goodell last year, saying of Kaepernick, 'This wasn't about him having a job. That became part of the discussion.' People at the table nodded obediently at this latest celebrity-class erasure tactic, insulting in its ridiculousness. It was absolutely about Kaepernick having a job. He didn't have a job because he was being punished by the NFL, not because he threw a wobbly spiral, but precisely because he advocated for black people. While Jay-Z told people to move on, Kaepernick's unemployment was an obvious part of the injustice. The NFL was the country's primary apparatus to demonize the kneeling gesture, and indirectly condone the very issue of police brutality it now says has no place.
It is the NFL's black fans who also require an apology from Goodell, because in punishing Kaepernick for drawing attention to the senseless killing of black citizens, the NFL chose killer cops over loyal fans, sending the message to them, as well as the players, that their concerns were unimportant compared to white fans who objected to kneeling. Black fans did not matter to the NFL. Now, Goodell could not mention Kaepernick by name but expects the public to believe that the NFL does.
Tabula rasa is the Latin phrase for 'clean slate,' and at present, the image of thousands of Americans around the country kneeling in silent, somber protest to an issue contributing to the polarization of the nation is a powerful one -- one that the NFL cannot legitimately embrace without wiping the slate clean with Kaepernick. There is no third way. It is not possible to have reconciliation without truth, and the only way to reach the truth is by doing the hard work, the thankless work, the painful work of absorbing it, swallowing one's pride, admitting mistakes.
The NFL today is in real time America of the 1970s, when the country had to admit that it was wrong in its attempt to destroy Muhammad Ali. Finally, it did, and the world did not collapse, but it healed, as most wounds do with the proper treatment. A $15 billion industry that dominates the imagination of the public should have the strength to accommodate differing opinions, whether they belong to Kaepernick or Brees. But the only opinions that received league-wide punishment were Kaepernick's. If the league, both Goodell and to another extent Brees, expect the public to believe their statements, the next step toward real truth is opening the door to signing Kaepernick -- a move that has been closed for nearly four years. If it remains closed, this flashpoint will be remembered as the moment the NFL admitted it handed out a life sentence, admitted it was wrong -- and still did nothing about it.
It’s been nearly four years since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem before an NFL game.
And in those nearly four years, it feels as if Kaepernick’s original message continues to be muddled, misconstrued, twisted, misunderstood and lost. It’s not just Drew Brees who doesn’t get it, either.
It’s so many of us.
It’s gotten to the point where everyone should take a step back and re-read what Kaepernick has said about his protests and remind ourselves what has happened in those nearly four years.
Colin Kaepernick Twitter
So here are some notable moments and quotes from Kaepernick since those landmark days in 2016.
August 26, 2016: Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem before a 49ers preseason game
The then-Niners quarterback had refused to stand for the anthem in a game before this one, but this was the first time it was noticed. After the contest, he told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche his reasons for kneeling:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. …
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
August 28, 2016: Kaepernick addresses the media further
Again, he was kneeling, calling for the very same change that’s being called for right now:
“There’s a lot of things that need to change. One specifically? Police brutality. There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. People are being given paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.”
August 30, 2016: Former Green Beret and ex-NFL long-snapper Nate Boyer pens an open letter to Kaepernick
In the Army Times, Boyer discussed his feelings about Kaepernick’s protest and although he felt anger initially, he ultimately supported the QB:
Colin Kaepernick Ethnicity
I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.
Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it. When I told my mom about this article, she cautioned me that “the last thing our country needed right now was more hate.” As usual, she’s right.
And it turned out that it was Boyer’s suggestion that Kaepernick kneel and not sit for the anthem.
Fall, 2016: NFL players including some of Kaepernick’s teammates follow his lead and kneel during the national anthem
March 3, 2017: Kaepernick opted out of his contract, making him a free agent
He played his last down for the Niners on New Year’s Day of 2017 and hasn’t gotten an NFL job since. It’s important to note that GM John Lynch confirmed in May of that year that he would have cut Kaepernick if the QB hadn’t opted out, so he would have been out of a job regardless of his choice to become a free agent.
September 22, 2017: Trump rips NFL players who protest in a speech to a crowd in Alabama
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners,” he said, “when someone disrespects our flag to say, ‘get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now’? Out. He’s fired.”
Fall, 2017: Protests are reignited after Trump’s remarks
September 25, 2017: His former teammate Eric Reid wrote “Why Colin Kaepernick and I decided to take a knee” for the New York Times
I approached Colin the Saturday before our next game to discuss how I could get involved with the cause but also how we could make a more powerful and positive impact on the social justice movement. We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system. We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the N.F.L., to speak for those who are voiceless. …
We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.
October 15, 2017: Kaepernick files a collusion grievance against NFL owners
From Kaepernick’s lawyer Mark Geragos:
“If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our goverment. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest dyas as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.”
The grievance would eventually go to trial and the league would settle with Kaepernick and his former Niners teammate Eric Reid in 2019.
April 21, 2018: Kaepernick accepts an award from Amnesty International
This is worth watching, because he reiterated his original message:
“How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, ‘freedom and justice for all,’ that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?”
September 3, 2018: Nike launches a new campaign starring Kaepernick
Some people responding by burning their Nike gear and one athletic goods store owner was forced to close his store after he stopped carrying Nike products.
May 29, 2020: Kapernick tweets his support for the protests over the death of George Floyd and starts a legal defense fund
The former quarterback has spent much of his time away from the NFL donating large sums of money to social justice charities and organizations.