Danny Cardwell's picture

    No Wins: Money, Power, And Disrespect

    I don't care if Colin Kaepernick ever plays another game in the NFL! Don't get it twisted: I'm deeply troubled by the prospect of a law abiding citizen having his dream stripped from him for making a political stand about an issue that's important to millions of Americans, but I don't care if he ever plays again. Colin is trying to get a job from a league that prefers "the help" be subservient rather than independent. His crime was far more egregious than not standing for a flag and a song: Colin is being punished for disrupting the herd. The moment he didn't kowtow to the wishes of the league and end his protest he became a nuisance, but when he inspired others to protest he became an enemy. 

    I had close to 1,000 words written juxtaposing the way NFL owners and general managers have publicly treated players with domestic violence, assault, and rape arrests versus the way some of them have spoken on and off the record about Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem protest, but the truth is: that's a false dichotomy. Rapist and domestic abusers are welcomed back to the NFL because their crimes don't challenge the authority of the league. When a player, irrespective of race, beats a woman, she's the victim. When Colin and the players who joined him in protest defied the wishes of the commissioner and their owners, the league was the victim. Power doesn't like to be disrespected. I don't believe all of the owners refusing to sign a quarterback who can help their team win are racists: I'm sure some just really love money and aren't willing to risk losing any for a few more wins. What does the owner of a 4-12 team gain by signing a guy who gets them to 7-9 if they miss the playoffs, their team faces boycotts from "real Americans", and they are at the center of weekly tweets from the petulant child who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 4 days a week?     


    What we're seeing is the NFL equivalence of an unruly slave being beaten in public to send a message to the rest of the plantation. I know some #wypipo get upset when anyone references slavery, or compares athletes to slaves, but William C. Rhoden hit the nail on the head in his 2006 book Forty Million Dollar Slaves when he wrote, "Black athletes still find themselves on the periphery of true power in the multibillion-dollar industry their talent built." There's a dynamic at play in sports and entertainment that rarely occurs in other fields: the "help" has the ability to become more famous and almost as powerful as their employers. There are very few owners in any professional league who are as popular as their star players. For every Mark Cuban or Jerry Jones there are 25 owners who could walk into a mall and not be noticed. In the trailer for the Justice League movie one of the characters asks Batman what his super power is; he responded, "I'm rich." Being rich is only a super power if people acquiesce to it. The moment the boss can't control you with money he/she can't control you at all. The NFL couldn't stand a dozen or more liberated men on each team. This wouldn't affect the product on the field, but it would challenge the hierarchy team sports thrive on. Colin has to be sacrificed to keep the rest of the league in line.   


    Most quarterbacks hit their prime in their late 20's and early 30's, so there's a chance Kaepernick's best seasons are ahead of him. It's hard for me to believe that he will make it through the preseason without a contract, but stranger things have happened. We live in a country that prefers their protestors dead. Muhammad Ali died last year and America posthumously resurrected his legacy. Many of the same people who hate Muslims and protest movements for justice pretended to love a Muslim who inspired many to protest for justice. Colin upset a fragile subset of the American population; these are the people who throw tantrums when they hear traffic has been blocked by protestors, yet they ignore the reason for the protest. If Colin Kaepernick never throws another pass he has already solidified his place in American history. He was Black Lives Matter in front of the American people every week. He didn't ask for the attention his protest received. He didn't ask others to kneel in solidarity with him. Colin didn't talk about what he was doing until he was asked. He literally protested the way white people have told Black people to protest since the end of slavery; he proved to the world that there isn't an acceptable way to highlight racial disparities in our society. He forced Americans to go on the record about police brutality and race. I don't care if he ever plays again, because one day Americans will be forced to save face and pretend like they supported what he was doing. I hope he manages the money he's made responsibly: this could be the end of his lottery ticket.





    His political stand included: 

    Colin Kaepernick: Clinton and Trump are 'proven liars'.

    The 28-year-old was hardly complimentary of Clinton, calling her “the lesser of two evils.”

    He had every right to do and say whatever, but the kneeling in front of an NFL crowd game after game could be portrayed as "Awakening a sea of Trumpster Rubes, and filling them with a terrible resolve."

    Thanks to millions of other people with equally weak perceptions of the honesty and policies of the candidates in the recent election, we now have a racist AG, a white supremacist top advisor and a President  hell bent on destroying the habitability of the planet. Almost all the people in this or future generations, who will suffer the consequences of President Trump,  will not have even a fraction of the financial cushion CK has earned, even if he doesn't get a new contract.

    I would suggest reading The John Carlos Story for the life of a true sports hero who made tremendous sacrifices to call attention to racism and poverty, for one iconic act on a world stage.

    Thanks for taking time to read this post and comment on it. I am very familiar with John Carlos. I was fortunate to hear him speak at Virginia State University in 1996/97 the years run together.

    I didn't see Colin Kaepernick's actions as, "Awakening a sea of Trumpster Rubes, and filling them with a terrible resolve." 

    If I remember correctly the Trumpsters where in full swing by the time Colin kneeled at his first preseason game. If you remember there had already been a few Trump rallies that ended in violence. I don't want to address the Hillary Clinton comments: there's no need in having Bernie Bros and pro Hillary Dagbloggers gaslighting each other in the almost daily war over a primary that ended 10 months ago.  

    I wonder what percentage of the 66% of white women who voted for Trump factored Colin Kaepernick's comments and protests into their inner political calculus? We may never know!


    Have a good day.

    I backed Kaepernick's actions greatly, thought it a perfect way to draw attention to a key issue and need, and grimaced but bore the Hillary comment. But in retrospect (and at the time) it was a huge brainfart for a well-paid connected guy who'd touched a national nerve - he could have easily stayed on the political sidelines if desired, but instead he dissed the campaign and those backing the person most supportive and able to do something serious and practical about his cause. It has nothing to do with Bernie - it was autumn already, and Hillary was backing body cams for cops and action to control the cops, she had heavily embraced the feelings and positions of the black community, while Trump was pushing the "Blue Lives Matter" and deadly law and order angle.

    Instead Kaepernick swallowed the right-wing's decades old slander hook-line-and-sinker. I don't care if he plays again - he screwed the people he had up to that point been nobly helping. He should take his last big paycheck and invest it in a class on how to not get suckered and how to distinguish monster lies from normal political walking-the-fine-line. Or at least stay focused on getting the ball to the endzone, whatever his beliefs and distractions. Ironically the bullshit attacks on him supposedly dishonoring the troops should have made him appreciate just how many bullshit charges Hillary's had to fend off. "Both sides do it" my ass.

    (And Curt Flood is a hero of mine - helped decrease the slavery of the sports system in the 60's at great personal cost)

    He had every right to do and say whatever, but the kneeling in front of an NFL crowd game after game could be portrayed as "Awakening a sea of Trumpster Rubes, and filling them with a terrible resolve."

    Yes, but we can't be expected to govern our own expressions based on how they might react. That's kind of letting the terrorists win, isn't it?

    How "they might react" to words, actions, hate, propaganda, distractions and malarkey is politics, and the sum total of it in this nation gave us President Trump.

    There was more time spent on Kaepernick's kneeling than there was on a sitting Senator openly stating a white supremacist vision of the United States. Steve King said that blacks and Latinos would fight each other and then come for the whites. Kaepernick tosses a football. Steve King votes on legislation because he has the open support of a segment of the voting public. Kaepernick is not the problem.

    Another excellent post.



    Thanks! It seems dubios that a gifted athlete who's about to enter what is the prime of a quarterbacks career is still unemployed. Steve King is an absolute joke. He tries to say something incredible stupid every few months to remind us he's still around.


    Thanks a million for all of your support!

    I was encouraged by this article on Ricky Jean Francois parlaying his NFL wealth into clever education and business moves, as well as chagrined by the downsizing & dumbing down of NASA even as Ivanka exploits them, in spite of this nice testimonial:

    Growing up in Virginia, Leland Melvin thought he was going to go to college and eventually play professional football. But then he learned about a NASA program that would pay for him to take classes towards his master’s degree in materials science engineering. After a football injury sidelined his original plans, he continued his science education with additional NASA funding ― all funneled through the NASA Office of Education.

    “If it hadn’t been for NASA Education I wouldn’t have been funded to go to school, to work at NASA Langley, to become an astronaut,” Melvin told The Washington Post. He eventually went on to run the education office as well. 

    I'm a great believer in both affirmative action *AND* blacks taking the next step(s) to guarantee their own future. We sometimes get the equation right to support both, and then we screw up and devolve into another decade of repressive, counterproductive tactics before we manage to give it another try. Meanwhile the years are passing....

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