The NFL’s Seattle Seahawks have decided against hiring Colin Kaepernick as a back-up quarterback reportedly because he refused to promise to stand during the national anthem.
Kaepernick received notoriety for initiating the national anthem protest movement, when he was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, that swept the country over the last two years.
He has been a free agent since 2016, as all NFL teams have refused to sign him — almost certainly due to his refusal to stand during the anthem.
“I’d be shocked if he ended up back in the league, and I think this is just the latest example of it,” he said on “First Take.” “They were willing to let him back in if he were willing to say that he wouldn’t kneel again. He has not been willing to say that.”
No team has signed Kaepernick since he became a free agent in March 2017 after leading the take-a-knee protests as a player for the San Francisco 49ers.
The NFL’s regular-season ratings dropped by about 9.7 percent in 2017 regular season and 9 percent in 2016 over the previous year, a decline blamed in part on fan outrage over the refusal by some players to stand for the national anthem.
Even some who supported the anthem protests admit that Seattle is doing nothing wrong by refusing to hire Kaepernick:
So the Seahawks asked Colin Kaepernick what his social-activism plans were, he said he didn’t know, the team postponed a workout as a result, and just like that the most polarizing sports story of the century refilled its gas tank.
Pundits are sounding off. Cries of injustice swirl social media. The NFL once again is mired in controversy.
But it shouldn’t be — because the Seahawks did nothing wrong.
Given today’s accusatory climate, I should probably offer some background before writing any further. In 2016, I supported Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the national anthem, arguing that controversy is the most efficient means of getting attention. I later wrote a column that Kaepernick’s activism shouldn’t keep teams from hiring him, and then another column that he would be an ideal fit as Russell Wilson’s backup.
I never thought a protester with a clean record should be blacklisted while a few dozen NFL players are arrested every year. But it doesn’t matter what I think. If you’re an NFL team owner, it mainly matters what your fans and players think.
Despite cries from the usual suspects that this is “censorship” — a ridiculous notion by ignoramuses who wouldn’t know “censorship” if it bit them in the butt — the bottom line is that Kaepernick is perfectly free to protest to his heart’s content. He just can’t do it when he’s getting paid by an NFL team whose existence is directly tied to the goodwill of football fans, sponsors, and advertisers. The anthem protest negatively affects that goodwill. Ergo, an NFL team will not deliberately hire someone whose actions, no matter how noble they are considered by some, bring the image of a corporation down.
Why is this concept so difficult for some to understand? Colin Kaepernick would almost certainly be hired by someone as a backup quarterback given his NFL experience and limited, but adequate skills as a football player, except for his insistence that he and other protesters are above such petty considerations like money, brand, and image and should be embraced for their social conscience.