Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL for three seasons, and former league executive Joe Lockhart has finally confirmed why: His kneeling protests during the national anthem were “controversial, and, therefore, bad for business.”
Kaepernick was protesting police brutality against black people and people of color, a persistent problem which has come up numerous times over the past week as athletes speak out against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Lockhart’s column on CNN.com implores the Minnesota Vikings to sign Kaepernick and right the wrong that was committed three years ago when Kaepernick was essentially blackballed from the league.
The NFL, always defensive whenever Kaepernick is mentioned, responded to Lockhart’s column on Saturday afternoon through spokesman Mike McCarthy.
“Colin is a free agent,” McCarthy said, via ProFootballTalk. “Clubs may sign him if they choose to do so.”
McCarthy also called attention to the update the NFL’s VP of social responsibility, Anna Isaacson, gave to owners and reporters this week on the progress of the league’s social justice initiative.
Here’s the update that Isaacson gave, via ProFootballTalk:
“Today we covered several updates on our Inspire Change social justice initiative. Firstly, it’s important to know this work remains at the top of our priority list and has been a continued focus even throughout the offseason. Recent events across the country make it even clearer how much more work needs to be done. We recently announced we surpassed $44 million in funding along with a new set of national grants and grant renewals to non-profit organizations that really do the real work on the ground in our key focus areas of education, economic advancements, community and police relations and criminal justice reform. The $44 million also includes more than 750 matching grants on behalf of players and legends who have personally supported local, social justice organizations, for more than 360 distinct organizations that have served more than 600,000 people in just the last two years alone.”
Do either of those responses have anything to do the main thrust of Lockhart’s column, that NFL owners refused to sign Kaepernick because he was “bad for business,” and that the social justice work the NFL does is inadequate until they treat Kaepernick fairly? No. But considering how little honesty the NFL has shown in its dealings with Kaepernick, no one should be surprised.
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