Earlier today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced via an online video that the league was wrong to condemn the peaceful protests of their players. What does this all mean?
I’m shocked. I never thought I would see this day. I’ve been a fan of Colin Kaepernick since he led the Nevada Wolfpack to an upset over then-undefeated Boise State in 2010. I watched him work on his game until he earned the starting spot for then Coach Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers. I also watched him risk his career to aid in Black America’s fight for justice and equity. I’ve never admired him more than I did when he risked his career to help us be heard. A lot has happened since 2016. Many things have been said about him and the issue of Police Brutality in this country since then. Through it all, I’ve remained a staunch supporter of Kaep and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Narratives were made, and traps were set, yet here we are. Kaep has been proven right.
I believe that this moment isn’t just about Kaep. I think this is indicative of what the American people are capable of when we demand change. The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, & Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police have caused public outrage. That outrage has led to mass demonstrations in all 50 states. Joining in with this movement, were many black NFL stars.
Another thing that this moment proves is that if the majority of black players in the league stood or knelt, with Kaep back in 2016, the league might have very well made this announcement a long time ago. When some of the league’s brightest stars, such as Patrick Mahomes & Saquon Barkley, publicly state that police brutality is unacceptable, what choice does the league have but to agree? This is not an indictment on many of the players that were in the video, because most of them weren’t even in the league in 2016. However, the league as a whole, and the nation as a whole, must acknowledge that had these actions been taken sooner, police brutality could have already been addressed. Maybe, just maybe, George Floyd didn’t have to die. With that said, the NFL is not absolved blame either.
This apology is cute and all, but the reality is they’ve been complicit in this country’s racism for far too long. It isn’t difficult to see why they were hesitant to speak out; the NFL was worried about the continued financial support from fans that didn’t agree with Kaep or the #BlackLivesMatter movement. However, this multi-billion dollar industry still has no excuse. This is long overdue. Not only that, but Colin Kaepernick should have been directly apologized to. Kaep and the league have a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that they settled back in 2019, but he deserves to be credited by them directly for the risks that he took to bring attention to this issue. The NFL didn’t give a damn about Police Brutality until Kaepernick risked his career over it, and that needs to be made clear.
We must also realize that the NFL has yet to commit to taking actionable steps to secure substantive changes. The deal with Jay-Z to ‘unite social justice and music’ seems to be where they would like to start, but nothing concrete and impactful has come from it yet. To say that the league is ‘late to the party’ is an understatement. To make up for that lost time, and to take advantage of the multi-billion dollar platform that they have, I would have loved to hear about more comprehensive initiatives that they are launching to address this issue. Even if they don’t know what to do, an invitation TO COLIN KAEPERNICK to collaborate in that regard would make a lot of sense. I don’t know if he’d accept after all of this time, but a failed attempt is better than failing to make an attempt at all. Talk is cheap, and the NFL has deep pockets. I refuse to accept the bare minimum from them.
There’s been a lot said about the riots and looting that have taken place. However, Washington D.C.’s Mayor renaming Pennsylvania Avenue ‘Black Lives Matter Way’ paired with this news shows us an appalling truth about the ruling class of this country. They only respond to violence. Many love to allude to the life and message Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, along with ignoring his critiques that apply directly to them, they conveniently leave out the fact that he was violently murdered by forces within our government. Kaepernick knelt, and the elite in this country were largely deaf-mutes. Protestors have been marching for years and have been largely ignored. All of these peaceful actions were taken, yet there was no substantive discussion about Police Brutality. Until now.
The discourse was dominated by claims that Colin ‘disrespected the flag/troops’ by kneeling (as NFL QB Drew Brees expressed recently), even though he was instructed by a U.S. veteran to kneel in the first place. The league shunned him from employment, and barely any elected officials spoke up about it. Now that angry citizens are setting fire to police precincts and looting stores, this issue has their full and undivided attention. Actions speak louder than words. The harsh truth is that those in power in this country cannot continue to request peaceful protests and then ignore them. Our government cannot condemn violence and have it be the only thing that they respond to. This tendency, coincided with our nation’s history, tells us all that violence is the answer. This is a sad and unfortunate fact, but it can be changed. Those that make non-violent revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable. The masses aren’t going to ask nicely for their rights much longer, and it would behoove those in power to take note of this and react accordingly.