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The plight of Colin Kaepernick By Mark Hollis

What in the heck is going on with Colin Kaepernick? Here is a guy that up until a couple of years ago was one of the premier quarterbacks in the National Football League. Midway of the 2012 season, Colin stepped into the starting role for the San Francisco 49ers when then starter, Alex Smith was injured. He excelled to the point that the team traded Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest has been history. His career stat sheet places him in the 17th position out of 185 quarterbacks with a Passing Rating of 88.9. Colin opted out of his restructured contract and decided to test the free agent market with the anticipation of being contacted by a number of prospective teams. The result has been astonishing. Aside from the Seattle Seahawks, the phone has not rung. So why isn’t he playing ball this season? Colin started 12 games during the 2016 season and under the circumstances had a decent year. But prior to the season starting, Colin chose to address the atrocities of people of color at the hands of the rogue element in law enforcement. During the preseason of 2016, he chose to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem. This silent protest set off a fire storm of adverse opinions. Interesting enough, his stance on this issue superseded his on-the-field accomplishments. The disgusting result now is that Colin is being blackballed out of the NFL.

The problem with Colin Kaepernick’s ability to play in the National Football League lies primarily with the owners of the NFL. The “good old boy” system determines what is acceptable behavior for the brand regardless of what society says. Colin’s stance to take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem is his First Amendment right. But because he wears a uniform that promotes the Shield of the NFL, he is being punished for his actions. A few years ago, Philadelphia Eagles player Riley Cooper, who is white, used the “N” word towards a black security guard and received hardly a slap on the wrist from the league. Colin takes a knee to protest the very behavior exhibited by Cooper in the police departments and is blackballed.

My concern is that the message by the NFL to its players is to tow the line, keep your mouth shut, or kiss your career goodbye. This type of control creates a restricted environment full of autocratic directives that hampers a player’s freedom of expression. Companies throughout the United States are promoting diversity and they encourage respectful debate amongst their employees. In many cases, they will offer a forum for discussion.

In my opinion, Colin Kaepernick is one of the good guys. He chose to stand for something regardless of the cost to him personally. During this whole process, he never lost his dignity amidst the adverse reaction and addressed his message where it mattered most— to our youth. So, while his playing days may be behind him, Colin will evolve into that beacon of truth and honesty. He now has a platform for all eyes and ears to see and listen. I only hope he continues to stay firm in his convictions and should the opportunity to play again is made available, he does it on his own terms.