A Closer Look at the Kaepernick Effect

Abrahim Karzai, Staff writer

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“Stick to sports.”

These are three words that people in the sports world are accustomed to hearing, whether they are athletes or members of the media. They hear this every day because, in this heated political environment we find ourselves in today, no one wants to hear about real world issues from the players or the media. “Stick to sports” has become a slogan for those who oppose NFL players simply protesting an injustice in our country by taking a knee during the national anthem.

This all began in August, 2016 before a preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the sidelines while the national anthem played throughout Levi Stadium. This would be the beginning of a long journey for Kaepernick, NFL players and owners, and – to some extent – the entire nation.

From that moment, Kaepernick became a lightning rod of controversy. His decision to sit out the anthem to bring attention to police brutality and the treatment of African Americans and other minorities in the U.S. would be a decision that would change his career.

Other players followed Kaepernick’s lead and anthem protests have continued. Players have continued sitting or taking a knee, and Kaepernick remains unemployed. Why?

The lack of interest in Kaepernick’s services is closely tied to politics and money. According to some sources, the word “blackballed” has even been discussed regarding the former Super Bowl starter. As for why this is the case, the only ones who can truly answer are the NFL owners.

There are 32 starting quarterbacks in the National Football League. If we throw in every team’s second string QB, there are 64. Of those 64, Kaepernick is better than most, but there is no reason to pull stats and Pro Football Focus reports about Kaepernick and compare him to the other NFL quarterbacks who are employed right now. Consider this – John Elway, former Broncos quarterback, Hall of Famer, and current VP of Football Operations for the team, was willing to trade a first round draft pick for Kaepernick back in early 2016 – just before his anthem protest began. Yes, you heard that correctly, according to Pro Football Talk, the Broncos openly courted the former 49er quarterback, meeting with him twice, and had trade discussions with the 49ers about him.

What happened to the interest Mr. Elway? The last time I looked, your team just benched your starting quarterback in Trevor Siemian for Brock Osweiler. Both have struggled mightily this season.
This is not a football issue, this is a societal issue. Football is just caught in the middle. If you think the issue will just go away, think again. Several weeks ago, another anthem-related controversy began when Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair, in a meeting with NFL owners, referred to the controversy saying, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

The undertones of this, referring to NFL players as criminals and the owners as the wardens, shows just how far the NFL has come on the issue. The fact that this is how an owner sees his employees, people who contribute millions of dollars to his pocket, only furthers the point of protest. But hey, players should play, owners should own (whatever that means), and people who cover sports should just “stick to sports,” right?

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A Closer Look at the Kaepernick Effect