With week 2 already underway in the NFL season quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent.
The quarterback who brought his team five yards away from nearly pulling off a 22 point comeback victory to win Super Bowl XLVII is still not on an NFL roster this 2017 season. Kaepernick protested the National Anthem last season by taking a knee because he didn’t want to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” according to an article by NFL.com’s Steve Wyche. Is it a coincidence?
“I have nothing but admirations and respect him,” Charles Barkley said of Kaepernick last month during a
panel titled “A Conversation on The Intersection of Sports, Social Justice and Activism” at the 2017 National Association of Black Journalists Convention.
“But they not gone sign his ass…dude is getting black balled because they’re messing with his money,” Barkley said.
Is Kaepernick qualified to be a backup quarterback if not a starter in the NFL? Future Hall of Famer and five time Super Bowl Champion (*despite “spygate” and “deflategate”) quarterback Tom Brady thinks so.
“I’ve always watched him and admired him: the way that he played,” Brady said in an interview. “He’s accomplished a lot in the pros as a player and he’s certainly qualified, and I hope he gets his shot.”
While he may have the skills to be in the NFL taking a stance for what he believes ruffles the feathers of owners, Barkley said. The concern of Kaepernick’s stance may turn heads away from football, fans who only want to see sports as an escape from reality or disagree with his stance.
“They just want people to come out on Sundays…those guys who sign the checks [are thinking] ‘so you just gone spit in our face,'” Barkley said.
Fox Sports Mike Hill was in attendance, as an audience member at the NABJ panel, and offered his perspective as a military member. One of the criticisms Kapernick’s stance faced was the idea that taking a knee was disrespectful to people in the service.
“You never heard it from military members,” Hill said. “We fought for this…we have these rights.”
Before Miami Dolphins brought quarterback Jay Cutler out of retirement to replace injured Ryan Tannehill they were considering bringing in Tim Tebow, who was already signed to a professional baseball contract under the New York Mets minor league system. With both being long shots it seems like a slap in the face to not sign a quarterback in Kaepernick who’s still committed to play.
“Now I like Tim Tebow, he could date both of my daughters at the same time, but I don’t want him to be my quarterback,” Hill said.
During the panel Barkely reinforced that he admires what Kaepernick is doing as he’s resembling traits from Barkley’s all-time “favorite jock,” Muhammad Ali.
When Ali was drafted by the US Army he refused to be involved in the Vietnam War as he didn’t want to harm innocent people who never done him wrong because America said so. Taking the stance he was stripped of his heavyweight boxing titles, his boxing license was suspended and he was sentenced five years in prison for draft evasion.
When it comes to making a stance there’s one thing people need to remember, Barkley said.
“You gone have to live with the ramifications,” Barkley said.
Throw in the added pressure for athletes to make a stance because they have to decide whether they are willing to live with the fact they could lose their money, especially in the NFL where contracts are not guaranteed, Barkley mentioned. Also, they could lose the privilege to play the sport they’ve played their entire life on a professional level which puts them in a tough position, Barkley explained.
An audience member asked Barkley a hypothetical question. A question regarding if Barkley would have sat out during a 1991 NBA Finals game after the Rodney King police brutality incident, a protest Chicago Bulls player Craig Hodges became the only participant.
“I don’t like hypothetical questions…[but] I wouldn’t have missed the game,” Barkley said. “Everybody has the right to protest…throwing a punch is the action but there will be a reaction.”
In the case of Hodges he later got black balled from the NBA. With Kaepernick he still has not been signed to a team. However, if there was more support and these athletes were not isolated the results would be different, sports journalist William Rhoden said on the NABJ panel.
“If he (Kaepernick) was backed up by the entire team they’d (the NFL) react because they would be losing money,” Rhoden said. “What does 70 percent of the league [being black] mean if they not doing nothing.”
By Gino Terrell