The boycott theories that were once murmurs are now full-blown conversations.
Every day I see a new petition on social media asking people to sign their name in support of Colin Kaepernick.
At least once I day I read a comment about turning off the TV this fall, in hopes of sending a message to the NFL by not watching their product.
“Until somebody signs Kaep, I’m not watching.”
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“It’s wrong how they’re doing that boy. While all these scrubs are still getting jobs.”
“Let’s hit them where it hurts, in their pockets. I already canceled my league pass subscription.”
But what if what Kaepernick needs most isn’t the support of fans or a willing owner.
What if it’s the support of marquee players, whose teams can’t blackball them for speaking out on his behalf?
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We’ve seen players like Richard Sherman, Malcolm Jenkins, and Michael and Martellus Bennett step up on behalf of Kaepernick, put actions to their words, and be undeterred to speak their minds.
But with all due respect to the talents and resumes of those men, they aren’t the faces of the league.
What if Cam Newton decided to not have his fashion choices be the talk of his press conferences, but rather spent time each week discussing why it’s problematic, and almost criminal, to blackball a player for simply exercising one of his rights.
What if Odell Beckham Jr. decided he was going to wear a “Kaepernick” shirt during pregame warmups, and that his new touchdown celebration would be a tribute to the quarterback by kneeling and raising his fist after every score.
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What if the $ 100,000 Julio Jones spent on that earring he lost while jet skiing was instead a donation to one of the organizations Kaepernick works with.
What if Dak Prescott changed his jersey number from 4 to 7 to honor Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick doesn’t necessarily need “us” to speak for him because what he actually needs is for the players in the league to do it for him.
“It’s something that every player has to weigh,” Malcolm Jenkins said in an interview with the Daily News earlier this summer. “It’s one of the reasons why the entire league isn’t full of activists because it comes with a price. And there’s really no way to avoid the possible repercussions of stepping out and pushing for change.”
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That brings us to the National Football League Players Association. Check out the website of the NFLPA and you’ll see one of their principles speaks to “enhancing and defending the image of players and their profession on and off the field.”
There is also a quote on the site that is supposed to represent the association’s core values.
“We, The National Football League Players Association … Pay homage to our predecessors for their courage, sacrifice, and vision; … Pledge to preserve and enhance the democratic involvement of our members; … Confirm our willingness to do whatever is necessary for the betterment of our membership — To preserve our gains and achieve those goals not yet attained.”
The players’ union has failed Kaepernick.
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Whenever the union and owners are at odds over the collective bargaining agreement, executive director DeMaurice Smith speaks out for the players and the union.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Smith.
The union and owners don’t have an issue fighting over contracts and salary caps. But yet, while one of the union’s own is still jobless for exercising his rights, the pushback has been mild, at best.
The union hasn’t stepped up to defend Kaepernick’s image, let alone his job, and they haven’t done whatever is necessary for the betterment of one of their members, who isn’t even being afforded a workout to show off his wares to these teams in need of a quarterback.
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NFL owners are sending a strong message to not just Kaepernick, but to their players, “do as Kaepernick has and you’ll be out of the league.”
This is why all players should be outraged, because this is a labor issue at its very core.
The NFL is almost 70 percent black, so more than half its members can probably relate to or have lived through police brutality.
Kaepernick kneeled for them and their families. But when is somebody in the league with influence going to stand for him?
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With the beginning of the season around the corner, I’m not sure Kaepernick will ever play another down in the NFL.
But I do know that the league has allowed players who have killed people and like to beat women to put on a uniform every week.
The NFL has shown us where its values lie.
But right now, the NFLPA is sitting back as the world watches one of their members get blackballed while they remain silent.
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If you can’t speak up in this situation, what’s the point of having a union at all?
Colin Kaepernick doesn’t need people like me to keep writing about him.
He just needs the players’ union to grow a spine.
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