The NFL Has Whitewashed Colin Kaepernick and His Protests

Colin Kaepernick became the face of a movement when he sat, and then knelt, during the national anthem in the 2016 NFL season to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Since then, the league and its fans have done everything in their power to remove Kaepernick’s message from a platform where it can have the most effect. Over the past two weeks of NFL action, the league’s whitewashing campaign felt like it was finally complete, thanks to some timely comments from the President, as well as another comical quarterback signing from one NFL team.

The comments from President Trump about the ongoing protests in the NFL were laughable for a few reasons, such as a sitting President calling upon business owners to fire their employees for exercising their first amendment rights. However, Trump’s continued use of respect for the flag is a terrible straw-man used by white people to avoid having a conversation of substance about police brutality in this country. It is also objectively incorrect given that Kaepernick went out of his way to speak to actual military veterans, who helped him to settle upon kneeling for the anthem as a gesture of respectful protest toward that very flag, instead of merely sitting.

Trump’s comments inevitably led to backlash among the league’s players, including more kneeling, locking arms with team owners, and other forms of protest during the league’s Week 3 games. However, those actions were largely not in protest of police brutality, but rather a demonstration of disagreement with a political entity completely obscuring the point of Kaepernick’s original protest.

Then came the Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals, when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones ran down a cameraman to ensure he was captured kneeling with his team before the national anthem, before the team stood for the song itself and locked arms. Kaepernick’s protest, which he has sacrificed his career for, has been turned into a generic show of vague All Lives Matter-brand unity by the NFL and its clubs.

As for Kaepernick’s career, not even teams that have injuries to similarly mobile quarterbacks will take a flier on him. The Tennessee Titans, losing Marcus Mariota to injury, have signed Brandon Weeden to a contract to fill a backup role, despite his lack of success anywhere during his several stints of employment in the National Football League. It seems that the NFL will do anything it can to erase Colin Kaepernick from its memory, and replace him with a different topic.

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