What I am about to relay to you, dear reader, is exactly why Colin Kaepernick isn’t playing in the NFL.
It’s not because of some blacklist. It’s not because of a bunch of plutocrat owners, smoking cigars in the owner’s box and viewing the game through a monocle, whispered an order to some obsequious underling that they never wanted to see that flag-protester in a uniform again. It’s not because he told truth to power and power told him where he could go.
If you wanted a more plausible explanation, it could be because Colin Kaepernick is in the business of being Colin Kaepernick, and the Kaepernick brand has nothing to do with football and everything to do with social justice. Just ask Nike and the people who designed those Betsy Ross sneakers.
On Sunday, the Kaep tweeted his support to several of the few NFL anthem protesters that haven’t given up the ghost.
“My Brothers [Eric Reid, Kenny Stills, and Albert Wilson] continue to fight for the people, even in the face of death threats,” Kaepernick said.
“They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong Brothers!!” he continued, closing with the black power fist emoji.
My Brothers @E_Reid35 @KSTiLLS @iThinkIsee12 continue to fight for the people, even in the face of death threats. They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong Brothers!!! ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/OQClsZXD5V
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) August 18, 2019
It’s not just that Colin Kaepernick said this. Of course he would. It’s when Colin Kaepernick said it that induces eyebrows to raise.
Last week, the NFL entered into an agreement with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation “as the league’s official Live Music Entertainment Strategists.”
Jay-Z is a man who’s known for his support of liberal causes and one could perhaps be forgiven for suspecting that this had more to do with the fact the NFL couldn’t find too many artists willing to appear with Maroon 5 during the halftime show of last year’s Super Bowl over the whole Kaepernick controversy. (If only Maroon 5 had decided against appearing as well, although I suppose that’s a matter of taste.)
The announcement from Roc Nation involves a bunch of the usual corporate synergies (for instance, new music released for the NFL as “Songs of the Season” was floated as a possibility), but there was also this bit:
“A core component of the partnership will be to amplify the Inspire Change platform priority areas identified by NFL Players, including Education and Economic Advancement, Improving Police-Community Relations, and Criminal Justice Reform,” the release read.
At the news conference announcing the initiative, Jay-Z said that “we’ve moved past kneeling” as a form of change.
“For me, it’s like action, [an] actionable item, what are we gonna do with it?” Jay Z said, according to Sporting News.
“Everyone heard, we hear what you’re saying, and everybody knows I agree with what you’re saying [in Kaepernick’s underlying message]. So what are we gonna do? You know what I’m saying? [Help] millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job.”
Eric Reid, a safety for the Carolina Panthers and one of the players mentioned in Kaepernick’s tweet, sounded off on this quote.
These aren’t mutually exclusive. They can both happen at the same time! It looks like your goal was to make millions and millions of dollars by assisting the NFL in burying Colin’s career. https://t.co/LFBZpbj2tw
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 15, 2019
Note that Eric Reid still very much has a job in the NFL. That means he’s still making “millions and millions of dollars” with the league he insists is “burying Colin’s career.” He’s also an object lesson in the fact that you don’t get blacklisted for being a vehement anthem protester.
Kaepernick’s girlfriend, radio host Nessa Diab (known simply as “Nessa”), also sounded off on Jay-Z for making the deal.
“I don’t mind you doing a business deal — but I do mind you wrapping it in social justice when you’re working with an organization that denies someone an opportunity,” she said on her radio show, according to the U.K. Guardian.
Meanwhile, on Instagram: “It’s typical for the NFL to buy different PR looks to cover up their dirt — that’s nothing new. But what is disgusting and disappointing is Jay-Z let them use him.”
This is all a very interesting hot take from Nessa, inasmuch as her social media usage was probably what denied Kaepernick his last, best opportunity of signing on with an NFL team.
Back in 2017, as the Baltimore Ravens were allegedly about ready to ink a deal with the former 49ers QB, Nessa tweeted a picture comparing Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to the vicious plantation owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” and former Ravens star Ray Lewis as house slave played by Samuel L. Jackson.
— NESSA (@nessnitty) August 3, 2017
Kaepernick, to nobody’s surprise, did not become a Baltimore Raven.
“I have been fighting for this kid behind the table like nobody has,” Lewis said at the time, according to The Baltimore Sun. “I’ve never been against Colin Kaepernick. But I am against the way he’s done it.
“Then, his girl goes out and put out this racist gesture and doesn’t know we are in the back office about to try to get this guy signed. Steve Bisciotti has said it himself, ‘How can you crucify Ray Lewis when Ray Lewis is the one calling for Colin Kaepernick?’
“When they [the Ravens] called me, it was to say, ‘Yes,’ or, ‘No.’ … We were going to close the deal to sign him. … Steve Bisciotti said, ‘I want to hear Colin Kaepernick speak to let me know that he wants to play football.’ … And it never happens because that picture comes up the next day.”
If true, it’s funny how that works, isn’t it?
Does Colin Kaepernick want to play football? He constantly tells us he does, at least when he’s not busy giving the thumbs-down to pairs of Betsy Ross-flag sneakers. But what is he really about at this point? Mostly, it seems, it’s reminding us that we’re never woke enough for him.
Keep in mind that the NFL has basically gotten behind every cause Colin Kaepernick was originally protesting for, they just haven’t given him a job.
The NFL vowed to take no action against anthem protesters. They’ve practically embraced the few that remain. Certainly, none of the players that Kaepernick tweeted about are being hounded out of a job. The league has clearly focused attention on social justice causes. They’re partnering with Jay-Z — a big enough name to keep the league accountable — to that end. If every player in the NFL were to kneel for the national anthem during Week 1, Roger Goodell might plausibly tweet a photo of himself kneeling in solidarity in his office. To say there’s been a major cultural change in the NFL hierarchy is a massive understatement.
Colin Kaepernick, in other words, has gotten a lot out of the NFL — except a job. That raises a lot of questions about how badly Colin Kaepernick really wants that job.
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