All the kneeling going on in the NFL looks like empty gestures as long as Colin Kaepernick is without a job. It was extremely tempting to think the #takeaknee movement was actual progress. However, if Jerry Jones and Ray Lewis were both involved, just how revolutionary of a movement could this be? The reality is that the NFL is using the Twitter rants of the current president and turning them into a publicity stunt for a league that is suffering from angry fans and low ratings. Don’t get it twisted, many of the players kneeling are doing so in protest of racially motivated police violence, but when team owners that contributed generously to the 45th president’s campaign are involved- it doesn’t quite add up.
The fact of the matter is that the NFL used Kaepernick as a scapegoat and then proceeded to co-opt his resistance and not offer the man a job. Instead, the league puts on a pseudo-protest while protecting accused rapists and other players with very unsavory reputations. Meanwhile, players with far less talent and experience have jobs while Kaepernick is left out in the cold. No need to name names but let’s just say some very mediocre White players are getting NFL checks from teams that overlooked a Black player that almost single-handedly took the 49ers to an NFC West championship and a Super Bowl appearance who to date has the best-selling jersey for the SF 49s.
Many fans are confused and think players are actually protesting the national anthem (which is an inherently racist song), when they are actually protesting state violence and/ or a hypocrite-in-chief that cares more about sports politics than the 3 million Puerto Ricans in dire need after their island was pummeled by 3 hurricanes in the past few weeks.
While there are players that have been protesting racial violence by sitting out for the anthem since before it was the cool thing to do (we see you Beast Mode), the new wave of teams staying in the locker room or kneeling on the field during the anthem seems more of a performance than a protest. If there was really an organized effort, where is the players’ petition to owners demanding Kaepernick be given an opportunity to play? Where is the talk of a player’s strike? Where are the press conferences denouncing white supremacy? The truth is that movements can be hijacked and this seems to be the case for the present situation going on in the NFL.
With all of the theatrics and the assault of tweets aimed at the NFL, the narrative has been redirected away from Kaepernick and the racially motivated black-balling he has experienced and towards an inauthentic re-enactment of his demonstration by players that have not been left high and dry. For now, Kaep’s job as a full-time activist has inspired the likes of Jay-Z to turn the NFL down when they offered him a spot in the 2018 Superbowl Halftime Show. Real recognize real every time. All in all, as long as Colin Kaepernick is without a job, the NFL is not really ’bout that life.