Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mandingo Rebellions Need Grass Roots Support

thenation |  The truth is ugly as sin. The NFL is denying Colin Kaepernick employment not because he isn’t “good enough” but because he is being shut out for the crime of using his platform to protest the killing of black kids by police. This makes the league’s right-wing billionaire owners’ silk boxers bunch up. 

NFL owners don’t make pariahs out of players who beat women or face accusations of murder. As dutifully printed and tweeted without commentary by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, New York Giants owner John Mara said that he had received “letters” (letters that no one at Sports Illustrated has seen) showing that fan reaction makes signing Kaepernick impossible. He said this a year after he signed his kicker Josh Brown to a multiyear deal despite seeing detailed and horrific reports about how Brown beat his wife, but Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the anthem was a bridge too far. 

Kaepernick’s pariah status is about sending a shot across the bow at every political athlete—particularly black athletes—that they better toe the line. The owners are again sending the message—just like when they tried to “influence” research on the effects of brain injuries in the sport—that the lives of players simply do not matter to the National Football League. 

The big mystery is whether what is happening is an old-school “blackballing” or if this is a conscious and coordinated campaign. Former NFL player Eric Davis implied strongly that he thought that the NFL had contacted the Seahawks and told them not to sign Kaepernick. If this turns out to be true, we are no longer in the realm of blackballing. We are talking about collusion. That could mean lawsuits. Not just ordinary lawsuits, but nine-figure lawsuits. Major League Baseball had to pay out $280 million in 1990, when it was found guilty of collusion, and anytime you’re dealing with the closed market of professional sports leagues, with their myriad antitrust provisions, collusion penalties can cost a fortune. 

But I don’t think that Colin Kaepernick is going to go the litigation route. At least not now. He loves this sport and he wants to play. Only two questions remain: Will he get signed by a team when a quarterback inevitably goes down to injury, and will his name, until he’s on a roster, become synonymous with the silencing of the political athlete?