Another day, another free agent. Colin Kaepernick has yet to be signed by another team since leaving the San Francisco 49ers. The talented quarterback made headlines for his national anthem protests in which he defied tradition by kneeling instead of standing. The protests were in support of the Black Lives Matter movement which was created in response to a series of black men being murdered and brutalized by police officers. The controversial group aims for African-Americans to be treated fairly and equally in the eyes of the law. This controversy coupled with Kaerpernick’s actions earned him a lot of negative backlash, including being voted the “most disliked” player in the NFL and even being deemed a traitor. When other NFL players began to protest as well, even more adverse reactions arose.
Kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” was one thing, but the drop in the 2016 NFL television ratings was another. The NFL is a multibillionaire dollar industry in which the cardinal rule is, “don’t mess up the money”. Ratings and money go hand in hand, so when Kaepernick upset enough football fans to the point they opted out of watching Sunday Night Football, he officially became blacklisted. Perhaps his worst mistake was not renewing his contract with the 49ers. The twenty-nine-year-old played a vital role in leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl, and had he remained on the field he could have lead them to another. The longer Kaepernick remains a free agent the less time he has to continue to cement his legacy and showcase his talent for the game of football.
However, finding a job will be difficult. The Seattle Seahawks were in talks with the quarterback about giving him a contract, but as of recently the Seahawks are said to be “interested” but not looking to sign him at the moment. Teams may be worried about onboarding him as he can potentially cost them money and cause even more uproar than he had in the past. While Kaepernick’s playing talent would make him an asset to any team, his off-the-field beliefs can paint him as a liability. A definite liability to the wealthy white NFL team owners and executives who sign the checks and hold the power. These billionaire team owners’ social and political views and those of African-Americans like Kaepernick are often polar opposite. So yet again, even in the 21st century we have the old age set up of the slave master and slave style setup. No, Colin Kaepernick is not a slave as he’s paid quite well for his work on the field, but he’s more an indentured servant. He’s expected to work on the field and do or say nothing in opposition to the rich whites above him who hire him, pay him, and put him in a contract for a couple of years. That being said, because Kaepernick has done just the opposite of this he may be being blackballed. No team owner is going to risk money hiring what may be considered a rebel, and no coach is going to risk his job signing him, thus rendering him a pariah. Kaepernick was and is still expected to just shut up and play, not display political or social justice views and risk valuable dollars. All is fair in money and football, but hopefully we’ll see Kaepernick running yards on a Sunday night in the fall.