A Salute To Colin Kaepernick: The Forced Removal Of Black Quarterbacks In The NFL
A certain type of player, in my own sport, has been ridiculed for years.
On August 14, 2016, Colin Kaepernick, now an exiled NFL Quarterback, took a stand for black people and altered his life from that day forward. Black America respects him for his stand, but the consequences to this action have been blackball-esque all the way. Loss of endorsements, racial prejudice, public shame, and termination from the NFL. It's not like we haven't had our troubles finding a place in the NFL before, but none of this 'backlash' would've occurred if he was white.
Black 'athletes' have had a longstanding history of not being allowed, if you will, to play QB in the league. They have to move to slot receiver, running back or cornerback etc. For example, my friend and former college teammate, Tre Roberson, holds the Indiana University record for most touchdowns in a game, and also took Illinois State to the FCS Division I-AA title game in 2015, yet his playing days as a QB were numbered by the time last year's NFL pre-season camp rolled around.
If you rewind over 40 years, Archie Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in consecutive seasons in 1974 and 75, the only player ever to win twice. However, he wasn't even the Most Valuable Player of his team or the conference in 1975 when he won Heisman #2. If it’s baffling to you too how Griffin won the Heisman and didn't win the other two trophies, it’s because his teammate and roommate, Cornelius Green, was one of the first pioneering black QBs in history and took home the hardware. Yet, 'Corny' was unable to play in the league as a QB even with his monumental resume and only had a brief stint playing receiver for the Cowboys and Seahawks after college. In a nutshell, that's been the state of culture defying black QBs over this entire time period. Starring at QB for a large, predominantly white institution and then being forced into something else on the next level. Maybe this sounds familiar.
Like what you're reading?
Get more in your inbox.
We've surely got our bright spots though, don't get me wrong. Doug Williams brought a Lombardi trophy to 'Chocolate City.' Michael Vick in his prime was the most electrifying player in sports, and today Cam Newton and Russell Wilson headline an established group of young black QBs with multiple Super Bowl appearances between them as well. Throw in Jameis Winston, the likes of a Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson and you've got yourself a special heap of black magic. This list might as well include Kaepernick, who was much closer to winning than Newton and reached the big game a year faster than Wilson. So why not give Kaepernick his just due? It is absolutely because of the pigmentation in his skin.
His political stance that should resonate with everyone—Americans exercising 'free speech’—is our constitutional right to protest. I know many owners may disagree with how he did what he did, and they may even look at his recent history as a QB and say he's not good enough to lead their team. Trust me, I get it. But Colin Kaepernick did something that Dallas great, Tony Romo, never did. He led his team to the Super Bowl, and now he can't even be a backup anywhere. It would behoove me to think that Kaepernick is useless, and isn't a top 2 QB for at least one of the 32 franchises in the league. But Josh Mccown can get signed right away plus 21 others? ‘Fishy’ is right, Spike.
When Time came out with its list of influential people in April, Kaepernick was, of course, on the list. If he can influence so many in this country and others, they could sign the man to an organization. He can clearly still play in this league when given the opportunity and in the right system. Maybe it's karma, maybe it's the President's tweets. But it's definitely bigger than his play on the field. His wins and losses speak for themselves, and he has proven to be a winner more often than not.
He was given an opportunity by the league, as a black QB, when drafted in 2012, but today he has had this opportunity stripped away from him for this same reason. He's black—outspoken and black. For black people everywhere, for black QBs, past and present, Kaepernick is putting something bigger than himself or his image on the line.
Every day was a countdown to see which team would take Kaepernick but to no avail. Not only does the criminal justice system that keeps acquitting officers after they've slain the bodies of our black brothers and sisters need to be dismantled, but the NFL's system of abolishing the black quarterback needs to be as well. Kaepernick showed us with his stance that he knows black lives matter.
But in the NFL, they certainly don't.