I have a question for you this morning: If you owned a National Football League team, would you spend millions of dollars to hire former Nevada football star Colin “Kap” Kaepernick as your backup quarterback? I wouldn’t, and I’ll tell you why.
I was reading stories last week about how Kap is a “victim” of white racism while I watched tens of thousands of real victims — our fellow Americans in hard-hit Texas and Louisiana — being pulled from their flooded homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey with little more than the clothes on their backs. I watched thousands of nameless heroes doing everything possible to rescue those desperate people without any thought of race, creed, color, religion and/or sexual preference, and with no regard for politics. That’s what makes America great, not some politician taking advantage of a tragic moment. It’s a matter of priorities and perspective.
How refreshing, I thought, and what a contrast Hurricane Harvey provides between what’s really important in our lives and manufactured mini-crises, like whether an NFL team hires Colin Kaepernick, who depicts himself as an “oppressed black person,” even though he’s a mixed race person who was raised by white people, much like former President Barack Obama. Victims? I don’t think so.
The San Francisco 49ers paid Kap $12 million last year to play football, but he spent much of the season on the bench. You could probably hire him now for $6 million to $8 million, but why? He’s a disruptive influence on the field and in the locker room because he refuses to stand for the National Anthem in solidarity with his fellow “victims,” including members of Black Lives Matter, an organization that criticizes police officers — black, brown and white alike — and white people. I thought of that organization as I watched the Houston’s Hispanic police chief wipe away tears as he confirmed the death of a veteran Mexican-American officer who drowned in his car while attempting to reach his duty station at the height of the storm.
One Northern Nevada sports columnist recently said the NFL should hire Kap in order to appease those who are protesting against NFL owners for not hiring him. After all, he’s merely exercising his free speech rights by taking a knee during the National Anthem. Kap has a right to protest the Anthem, but in a free country team owners have a right not to hire him.
If Kap played for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft or Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, he’d be out of a job in a heart beat. They might be willing to compromise, however, if Kap agreed to remain in the stadium tunnel where no one could see him during the Anthem and promised not to wear his hateful police “pig” socks.
Professional football is a multi-billion-dollar business and team owners can hire and fire players for any reason, including reasons you don’t like. Kap’s case reminds me of an earlier one involving gay defensive lineman Michael Sam, who washed out of both the NFL and the Canadian Football League. He didn’t fail because he was gay; he failed because he wasn’t a good football player. Social justice crusaders tried to force the NFL to re-hire Sam, but they failed.
The ultra-liberal Reno News & Review said “Kap matters” because he’s a social justice crusader. OK, then he should join Black Lives Matter and continue to denounce police and white people. That way he could exercise his free speech rights without ruining football games for the rest of us. “Trato hecho” (done deal).
Guy W. Farmer, a lifelong sports fan, apologizes for mixing politics and sports.