NAACP Requests Meeting With NFL Commissioner Over Colin Kaepernick
Amid protests over former 49ers quarterback's job status, organization wants to discuss his blacklisting by NFL teams.
Former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick is not a bad quarterback. In fact, for a few seasons, he was downright incredible, with a 2013 record of 12-4, throwing for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns versus just eight interceptions. A quick-footed speedster, Kaepernick also rushed for 524 yards.
The following season, he bested his totals for throwing yards and rushing yards, had a comparable TD to INT ratio, but led the team to an 8-8 record.
Then in August 2016, everything changed. Kaepernick began sitting and taking a knee during the national anthem to protest “[the] oppressed,” per a statement he issued at the time. (This was in the wake of a rash of incidents involving police brutality—but arguably, came to symbolize more than just that.) Teammates began joining him, as did players on other teams during different games. On Sept. 11, some players raised their fists in solidarity—including players on the future world championship New England Patriots. The silent protest spilled over to college and high school football games, one women’s pro soccer and WNBA game, and even a band playing the anthem before a baseball game.
And apparently, at least as far as the National Football League is concerned, that protest all but damned Kaepernick from ever having a job in professional football ever again.
Declaring free agency after the 2016 season, the quarterback has been looked at by some teams, each of whom has denied him a job. Rumors have been swirling about why that is the case—everything from the fact that he’d be a “distraction” to teams’ fears of an angry Trump tweet.
Kaepernick’s protest is covered under his First Amendment rights, and that’s what the NAACP’s interim president, Derrick Johnson, is hoping to meet with league commissioner Roger Goodell about in a yet-to-be-scheduled sit-down.
This comes on the heels of protests in front of NFL headquarters, by high-profile fans, and even NYPD officers, meant to show support for Kaepernick and shed light on his apparent blacklisting by the league.
In a letter, the NAACP’s Johnson asks for the meeting “to discuss what many in our community are viewing as a league-wide set of retaliatory actions against quarterback Colin Kaepernick for exercising his First Amendment rights.” He continues: “The exercise of free speech has proven to be a vital tool in bringing to the public’s attention often ignored issues of social justice, particularly in the African-American community.”
Johnson cites other vocal protesters in the sports community over history, including boxer Muhammed Ali, baseball’s Dick Allen, tennis’ Arthur Ashe, and the silent, black-glove-over-raised-fist podium protest at the ’68 Olympics Games.
Some NFL teams are in dire need of a veteran starting or backup quarterback, including the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets. Yet Kaepernick is still unemployed.
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