NFL Settles with Kaepernick, But is that a Win?

Reggie Fullwood
Reggie Fullwood

by Reggie Fullwood

As one of my pastor friends likes to say, “Let me just cut across the field” on this recent Colin Kaepernick versus the NFL settlement agreement. I am not quite sure how I really feel about the matter.

Clearly, it’s a victory for Kaepernick because the last thing the NFL wanted to do is go to trial and have their dirty laundry aired to the public. But was it really a victory? Has justice actually been served?

So technically, Kaepernick withdrew his collusion case, which means that the NFL “technically” did not admit that it conspired to blackball him from the league after he began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. But in reality, I think the NFL really lost big. Clearly, Kaepernick’s legal team had compiled enough evidence for the league to seek a settlement. The NFL’s legal team and leadership had to feel that they were exposed and they were afraid of potentially losing the case.

While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, it is clear that Kap bested the billionaire’s boys club – a.k.a. the NFL and its owners.
But when is a win not a win? We may never know if and to what extent owners actually colluded to keep Kaepernick from playing again. Without this issue going to trial, could it happen again to some other player that is simply taking a stand for social justice and equality? The league and the players’ lawyers said that “the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances” and that “there will be no further comment.”

A confidentiality agreement means that, for all the debate and discussion the case generated, it ended with a silence that left hanging whether the league admitted there was any collusion and whether Mr. Kaepernick would ever play another down.

Remember how this all started – Kaepernick is an African American quarterback that started taking a knee during the national anthem before games in protest to the brutal treatment of Blacks in America by the police.

While many blacks and other minorities applauded the quarterback, it clearly upset many Americans – especially some white people. What I find interesting is that some of the same people that support the U.S. Constitution have an issue with Kaepernick’s expression of free speech.
The protests drew the ire of fans and of President Donald Trump, who claimed players were being disrespectful to the American flag and members of the military.

After the national anthem kneeling protests began, the NFL implemented a rule that for almost a year banned the act. But that rule was later revoked.

How did we know that Kap was being “blackballed?” Well, there were probably a dozen NFL teams that desperately needed a decent to good quarterback and none of those teams over a two year period even took a serious look at a guy who was once an A list starter. Two years ago the Miami Dolphins even had the nerve to recruit and sign a retired quarterback who was average at best before his retirement.
It is asinine to refuse to give a person a job because of their viewpoint that black people are getting mistreated and senselessly murdered by the police.

Colin Kaepernick was essentially a Black man that was punished for his social conscientiousness by NFL owners, and that’s just wrong.
That social conscience has always been apart of sports – from Muhammad Ali to Jim Brown, black professional athletes have used their celebrity and influence to address critical issues affecting their race.

Kaepernick’s protest was an effort to use his position and voice as a NFL player to somehow influence change for the people who are suffering, and don’t have the same resources nor exposure that the star quarterback has.

But here’s what is so great about Kaepernick taking his stand – he did not only talk about mistreatment, he also put his money where his mouth is. He committed to donating a million dollars of his salary during his last season towards helping non profits and community groups deal with the challenges facing minorities.

So why be socially active when you are rich and may not face the same type of treatment that others do? Well the answer is simple, and Dr. Martin Luther King said it best – “Injustice anywhere is a treat to justice everywhere.”
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said after his first protest.

He added, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

So why not use your fame and high regard to address issues that help people? Whether you are an animal lover and want to protect greyhounds from being abused or you believe that funding inner city charter schools will make a difference – wealthy athletes should give back in some form or fashion.

And athletes shouldn’t be punished for fighting to raise awareness to the injustices faced by African Americans. Some will say it’s disrespectful to the flag and those in the military fighting for this country. That’s nonsense.

If I decide to take a knee or raise a fist in the air during the national anthem it absolutely doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the flag or our military. It means that America has often times been hypocritical when it comes to Black people. Remember “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal?” Well us Black folk are still fighting for “consistent” equality in 2019.

As the great Angela Davis once said, “The struggle is much more difficult now because racism is more entrenched and complicated.”
Signing off from protest free TIAA Bank Field, Reggie Fullwood

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