President Donald Trump just might have helped Colin Kaepernick get back in the NFL. Trump spoke to a Huntsville, Ala., crowd on Friday night and did what he’s done best since taking office: continued to rip the fabric of America down the racial seam.
During his rambling, emphatically racist rant, Trump exclaimed: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
The crowd of supporters erupted in cheers. The president was referring to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who, last year. led a nonviolent, silent protest against the killings of unarmed African-American men, women and children by kneeling during the national anthem.
Kaepernick is currently without an NFL home, and let’s be abundantly clear about this: He’s jobless because of his protest. But Trump’s rallying of white America’s hatred of black protest may have backfired. By coming straight out and saying that he would take any “son of a bitch” who protested off the field, Trump has confirmed what many believe about Kaepernick’s current free agent status.
Trump has friendships with just about every NFL owner, and as many as eight owners not only voted for Trump but also contributed up to $1 million to his bid for office, according to the Daily Beast. Yep, all you Washington football team fans, owner Dan Snyder donated $1 million to this sham of a presidency. So did the owners of the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets and Houston Texans. The Los Angeles Rams owner contributed $250,000.
The most troubling $1 million contribution came from Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who is Pakistani by birth. Khan would come out later to oppose the president’s Muslim travel ban, but the damage was already done. All of these owners were not only complicit in spreading the rhetoric that Trump spewed while running for office but also used their weight and influence to help get him elected and contributed real money to his campaign.
Now Trump comes out and says openly what many have believed these owners have said behind closed doors: that the NFL has always been against black protest, and Kaepernick has been fired for “disrespecting the flag.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came out with a flatly worded statement that didn’t even mention the president or the protest of black deaths. “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said, according to Yahoo! Sports. He added:
There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.
The president specifically mentions protests and protesters who were standing up against systematic racism, and the commissioner mentions the unity surrounding natural disasters. Got it.
Doesn’t matter at this point, though, because here is what I know matters to the commissioner and the owners: money. You know why the NBA hasn’t taken the same stance that the NFL has on players protesting? Because the top players in the NBA are black men with a spine. They are going to protest, and you can’t shut them up. In fact, the Cavaliers’ LeBron James has already come out to blast Trump, who tweeted Saturday morning that because Stephen Curry didn’t want to go to a Trump White House, the invite for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors had been rescinded.
“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!” James tweeted.
My guess is that Trump’s rant against protesting players and, more specifically, Kaepernick will swing the pendulum toward righteousness, which means that more black folks will stop watching the sport and more black players will join the protest. Neither Goodell nor the team owners are going to allow dividends to fall too far; as a result, Kaepernick will miraculously end up on a roster before the season ends.
Sure, this is all speculation, but at the end of the day, the NFL is a business, and no NFL owner is going to be hog-tied to a position that is messing with his money, no matter how racist he is. One of the good ole boys is going to have to take one for the team.