OPINION: If Arthur Blank genuinely supports the fight of the oppressed, then he should sign Colin Kaepernick
We've heard a different tone from the NFL this past week than the one we've heard four years ago.
In case you forgot, San Francisco 49ers beat reporter Jennifer Lee Chan pointed out Colin Kaepernick sat while the national anthem played before a preseason game. When asked about it after the game, Kaepernick explained.
"Ultimately, it's to bring awareness and make people realize what's really going on in this country," Kaepernick said. "There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. People aren't being held accountable for, and that's something that needs to change."
Let's fast forward to nearly four years later with Atlanta Falcons' owner Arthur Blank's statement.
"People are scared and in pain," Blank's statement read. "Their frustration is real, and it must be acknowledged and addressed. More must be done to address systemtamic racism. More must be done to bring to bring people together through meaningful change."
Based off these two statements alone, it would appear as if Kaepernick and Blank would make the best of friends.
While, of course, Kaepernick isn't and has never been as good of a quarterback as starter Matt Ryan is, he's certainly better than Matt Schaub and is more proven than Kurt Benkert, who was one of the first Falcons to speak up on racial injustice this past week.
As the 35-year-old Ryan has shown ironman-like stamina throughout his career, last season was the first time since 2009 he hadn't started all 16 games.
Is it that abstract to suggest a quarterback like Kaepernick become the backup on an NFL team when he hasn't played in a game since the 2016 season? Well, Schaub has started in three games since 2014, and has attempted 167 passes in that period. Kaepernick attempted 331 passes in the 2016 season alone, and has completed 462 more passes than Schaub has even attempted since 2014. Kaepernick will be 32 in August, and Schaub will be 39 in August. Yes, Benkert has been vocal this week, but he hasn't attempted a pass in a regular season game since going undrafted in 2018. Kaepernick started in Super Bowl XLVII.
If I'm Blank, or any NFL owner, why wouldn't I want the best possible player at every position on my depth chart? Some cases are understandable- like Antonio Brown. As talented of a receiver he has proved to be, he also carries the distraction of assault charges among other legal battles.
Kaepernick does not have a criminal record. When you search "Colin Kaepernick charged," stories of him offering to pay for the lawyers of Minneapolis protesters come up.
Kaepernick's controversial moments over the past few years include wearing socks with animated cops portrayed as pigs. More than 1,000 unarmed people died as a result of police harm between 2013 and 2019, according to data from Mapping Police Violence. Nearly a third of those killed are black. According to the Census, black people make up 13.4% of the American population. About 17% of the black people who died as a result of police harm were unarmed, a larger margin than any other racial group and about 1.3 times more than the average of 13%, as highlighted by U.S. News.
Three other controversial moments came in Atlanta last November. Kaepernick refused to sign an agreement he could no longer pursue legal action against the NFL before a workout. He also wanted the media present at the workout, so the general public had a glimpse of how it went. The other controversial moment of the workout was that he began the workout in a shirt that read "Kunta Kinte," a character from "Roots."
So, to recap: Kaepernick's controversial moments include a shirt and a pair of socks he wore.
In his time away from the NFL, Kaepernick has completed the Million Dollar Pledge, where over the course of 10 months, he donated $100K to organizations working in oppressed communities. The grand total of donations equaled $1 million dollars, the profits he made from his jersey sales in 2016. One organization he donated to was Helping Opressed Mother's Endure (H.O.M.E.), who are based in the Lithonia, GA area.
If Blank or any NFL organization want to put their money where their mouths are and genuinely support the fight against oppression in the black community, then they would sign Kaepernick.
Until that day arrives, there is no room for any Drew Brees criticism, the New Orleans Saints quarterback who many have ripped by standing by his earlier claim that he'll "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country" this past week. In 2016, Brees said he agreed with Kaepernick's protest but didn't agree with his method.
The suggestion for Kaepernick to kneel during the national anthem instead of sit came from Army veteran Nate Boyer in 2016.