Brian Oaks, Herald Owner
Brian Oaks, Herald Owner
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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,” said Colin Kaepernick.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” said Evelyn Beatrice Hall. 

Kaepernick is among the small percentage of remaining unemployed Americans. He was previously the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Last season he statistically ranked 17th out of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. So far this year he has not even been offered a back-up quarterback job.

Now, he has been labeled a problem to the league, yet he has not committed any crime nor caused harm to anyone. He has not called for riots or encouraged NFL players to strike.  He has merely chosen to quietly protest the treatment of African Americans in certain altercations with the police. Unfortunately for him, his protest included not standing for the National Anthem prior to kickoffs of several games.

As background, the first time the Star Spangled Banner was sung at a sporting event was during wartime in 1918 in the seventh inning stretch of the World Series in Chicago between the Cubs and Red Sox. When the series shifted to Boston, they began the game by playing the Anthem. Hence, the tradition was born.

By the 1950s, so few fans paid attention to the Anthem that some teams, including the Baltimore Orioles, stopped playing it. Their general manager cited lack of attention, including fans laughing and talking during the Anthem. About a month later, after public pressure, the Orioles relented and resumed the Anthem.

In the eyes of the white NFL owners and many fans, Kaepernick is guilty of something so awful that it is a just and fair punishment to be blackballed out of the league. His quiet protest has been met with more venom than the police brutality he opposed.

He has jeopardized his entire career, including millions of dollars, over a matter of principle. It’s ironic how forgiving and forgetful the same owners and fans have been when other players have committed heinous crimes, including wife beating, dog fighting, and murder while driving drunk; the list goes on and on, and all of those players were given a second, and sometimes a third, chance.

If Kaepernick thinks that America should do more to hold police officers accountable for their actions, I respect his right to do so. Our country has a proud history of peaceful demonstrations, trying to effectuate change. Henry David Thoreau refused to pay his taxes in protest of slavery. Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in protest to segregation, and Martin Luther King, Jr. led the march on Washington to call for equal rights.

While the National Anthem has become a sporting tradition, it is not illegal to sit, talk to your neighbor, or look at your phone during the song. I observed all of these actions at a recent national sporting event. 

While I personally disagree with his actions, I could not imagine living in a fascist state where I was compelled to honor symbols that I did not believe in. I fully support Kaepernick’s decision to act as his conscience dictates. At the same time, I encourage all owners to talk to their GMs and coaches, and if they consider it to be a sound football decision, hire Kaepernick. This is an opportunity for some NFL team to bridge the gap between the predominantly black players and the white owners and, at the same time, obtain a quality football player. 

Kaepernick does not deserve to be amongst the nation’s unemployed. He is not a criminal. He is an American citizen who has the inalienable right to speak his opinion, and there should never be a punishment in a free society for peacefully expressing one’s personal views.