Monday, October 16, 2017

Fighting Back

Colin Kaepernick, the young NFL quarterback about whom I have previously posted, has shown remarkable integrity and fortitude dealing with the furor following his decision to 'take a knee' rather than stand for the U.S. national anthem. His action, to protest the brutalization of Black people at the hands of the authorities, has been roundly condemned by reactionaries for 'disrespecting the flag'. (The fact that 'taking a knee' has been a traditional show of respect by those entering Catholic church pews, I guess, is neither here nor there in this fraught environment.)

That Kaepernick no longer has a team to play for reveals much about systemic racism, both in the league and throughout America. Now, he has decided to fight back. He has filed a grievance against the NFL on Sunday, alleging that he remains unsigned as a result of collusion by owners following his protests during the national anthem.

It would take mental gymnastics worthy of a denizen of Nineteen Eight-Four not to be able to see the cause-and-effect at work in the erstwhile quarterback's ongoing unemployment:
Kaepernick's supporters believe he's being punished for protesting police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem last season. This movement has spread throughout the NFL this season, drawing sharp criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Last week, CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora said that Kaepernick would be willing to go anywhere to work out for a team and wanted to be judged solely on his football ability.
While a difficult grievance to actually prove, all the evidence points in the direction of the NFL owners blackballing him:
San Francisco safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick's former teammate, has been kneeling during the anthem before games, including Sunday's 26-24 loss at the Washington Redskins.

"I'll have to follow up with him," Reid said after the game. "It sure does seem like he's being blackballed. I think all the stats prove that he's an NFL-worthy quarterback. So that's his choice and I support his decision. We'll just have to see what comes of it."

The NFL players' union said it would support the grievance, which was filed through the arbitration system that's part of the league's collective bargaining agreement.
Colin Kaepernick is clearly a deeply principled person who is likely running a real risk of further repercussions as he pursues this grievance. But that is often how the finest manifestations of personal integrity work, isn't it?

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