The NFL’s social justice initiative goes forth without Colin Kaepernick

JAIME C. HARRIS | 2/7/2019, 3:09 p.m.
As of today, Colin Kaepernick, who began the National Football League’s social justice movement, is far removed from its official ...
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

As of today, Colin Kaepernick, who began the National Football League’s social justice movement, is far removed from its official inception and impending execution. Last Monday, the league solidified a seven-year, $89 million deal with the Players’ Coalition, a group consisting of current and retired players, that will allocate those funds to various organizations and causes agreed upon by the Coalition to address social justice issues.

“We’ve really come together in a new program to support the players and to work between the teams and the players to address those issues in the community. That was the vast majority of our conversation the last couple of days,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the commissioner’s annual State of the League address at Super Bowl week last Wednesday in Atlanta.

Kaepernick had absolutely no voice in the process. He is by any objective conclusion being blackballed from the NFL as he remains the face of the players’ controversial and divisive protests during the ceremonial playing of the national anthem prior to the start of games. Kaepernick spurred the silent demonstrations, which garnered global attention, in August of 2016 by first sitting during the Star Spangled Banner and then kneeling before subsequent games.

The 31-year-old quarterback last played in the NFL Dec. 24, 2016. He opted out of the final year of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017 and has since gone unsigned. Kaepernick is undoubtedly one of the best 64 quarterbacks in the world as the 32 NFL teams have at minimum two QBs active on game days and carry at least three on their roster.

“All the clubs have to make their own decision on who is or is not on the roster,’’ said Goodell regarding Kaepernick’s status. “We, as a league, do not get involved in that in any way.’’

In theory Goodell is correct. But he works for the owners and knows damn well the men who pay his salary, which approaches $40 million per year, are collectively excluding Kaepernick from employment. It is why Kaepernick currently has an ongoing collusion lawsuit against the NFL. So as he watches from the proverbial sidelines, the pioneering activist can take a measure of pride in witnessing the NFL’s groundbreaking social justice initiative take shape.

Now it must be effectively executed and not become a corrupt, unethical patronage program. There are numerous communities across this country in total moral, social and economic decay. Police shootings of unarmed and innocent Black men still persist. Gang violence remains prevalent. Under-education and the lack of social-emotional development of boys and girls of color is alarming. The NFL, as a result of Kaepernick, can make a tangible positive impact.