NFL owners are a peculiar group of social justice benefactors.
Since they colluded to sideline Colin Kaepernick in 2017, the league has been far louder about racial bias than any of Kaepernick’s silent protests. It brought in Jay-Z, hip-hop’s living embodiment of capitalism, to advise on social justice initiatives (and the Super Bowl halftime show). It pledged a quarter-billion dollars to fund programs addressing everything from police-community relations to the racial-wealth gap. It’s played “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, the de facto Black national anthem, as a processional before games and plastered slogans like, “End Racism” and “It Takes All Of Us” painted in its end zones and on the helmets of its stars. They’ve even flown Black Lives Matter flags in stadiums.
It’s done almost everything it can do publicly to indicate that it took Kaepernick’s message to heart–everything except give Kaepernick an opportunity to play again.
So excuse me if I twist my lips and roll my eyes at yet another NFL exec, this time Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis telling NBC Sports over the weekend that he “believes” in Kaepernick and would “welcome him with open arms” if his team’s head coach and general manager thought it was a good idea.
Davis said he’s talked to Kaepernick, gotten educated on the quarterback’s opinions about social justice and evolved some of his own thinking.
“I think Colin’s a very misunderstood human being,” Davis said. “I’ve gotten a chance to talk to him…I didn’t understand the kneeling, what that meant initially. Over time I’ve learned a little bit more about it and I understand where he was coming from and he’s got a message for society as a whole.”
Thanks, Mark, for your consideration. If only Kaepernick’s gainful employment didn’t depend on the understanding and acquiescence of 32 mostly white billionaires, that’d be great. As it stands, we’re on the verge of the sixth NFL season in which Kaepernick won’t be on a roster mainly because no NFL owner or their underlings has offered him a real opportunity. This despite his numerous explanations of exactly why he kneeled so long ago and the list of things he’s done or said he’s willing to do just to get back on an NFL sideline.
Those things include continuously working out with current and former NFL receivers, releasing videos of those workouts to the public and saying he’d be a willing backup QB playing for the league minimum salary. This year that number is $1.035 million for someone with Kaepernick’s experience, chump change compared with what the NFL has already spent to virtue signal that it’s anti-racist. It’s likely a lot less that what former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is charging to defend it against a racial discrimination lawsuit, or the less than $10 million settlement the league reportedly paid to Kaepernick and similarly exiled kneeler Eric Reid in 2019.
Since his last snap for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, NFL execs have occasionally broached signing him. In 2017, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti–who personally donated $4 million to HBCUs last year–said his team considered it. The league itself set up a bizarre private workout for Kaepernick to show what he had to teams in 2019, but that plan fell apart after the league and Kaepernick couldn’t agree to legal terms.
In March, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said he’d spoken with Kaepernick and that he believed the quarterback deserves “a second shot” in the NFL. And now, Davis.
Somehow, NFL execs seem capable of doing every thing except the simplest thing. A cynical person might think they’re trolling at this point. But here’s a cheap and easy suggestion if anyone in the league wants to prove they’re not just talking shit Kaepernick deserving another shot: just call the guy already.