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New NFL Scheme, Same Old Play Book On Race Relations & Kaepernick

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says he received a call from a team inquiring about Colin Kaepernick yesterday, but he wouldn’t say which team it was. Speaking with reporters via video conference, Carroll also admits that he regrets not signing Colin Kaepernick in 2017, and denied that a second meeting with the quarterback was scrapped in 2018 because of the team’s fears that he would continue to kneel during the national anthem.

But we know the truth.

Heard It All Before

The white hierarchy in the NFL is really on some Sunshine Anderson sh*t. First, it was Drew Brees scrambling to save his name and apologizing several times for refusing to understand that Kaepernick’s protest had nothing to do with disrespecting the flag or military. 

Then NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who could have shown more support for his Black players the past half-decade, finally admits that he made a mistake not “listening” to African-American players express their unhappiness with police brutality and racial oppression of people of color in this country.

Some owners and head coaches, believe it or not, are even stepping up and saying they will now support peaceful protests by their players, after trying to threaten them, insult them and intimidate them into abandoning their beliefs and using the blackballing of Kaepernick as an example of what happens to players who stand up for justice in their league. 

Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement Thursday that she supports players making peaceful protests and players who choose to “use their platforms to advance us as a nation.”

“Hearing our players and coaches speak over the last two weeks has been constructive to this vital discussion,” Adams Strunk said in her statement. “I support our players using peaceful protests and their platforms to advance us as a nation. I would encourage those who haven’t thought about these issues before to understand the pain, anger and frustration of the black community. Black lives matter. We should all agree on that.”

New England Patriots running back James White and Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson have said that they intend to protest, possibly kneel when the new NFL season begins. 

Several owners have now spoken out about social injustice — including the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ Shad Khan (who called Trump “the Great Divider” in 2017) the New Orleans Saints‘ Gayle Benson and the Atlanta Falcons‘ Arthur Blank, as well as Mark Murphy, president of the Green Bay Packers — before Goodell’s video. On Saturday, Carolina owner Dave Tepper announced the Panthers would cut ties with long-term partner CPI Security following comments by CEO Ken Gill downplaying police brutality against people of color.

The statue of former owner Jerry Richardson was taken down by the franchise as a sign that they are moving on from racism, or misogyny associated with their franchise

The sentiment expressed by some of these owners is an about-face from 2017 when Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Colin Kaepernick’s disrespect of the American flag killed his chances of becoming an Eagle, echoing the sentiments of divisive President Donald Trump and his right-wing, white supremacist constituency. 

More Money, Same Problems

It also appears that the NFL is pledging to donate $250 million over 10 years to be used to fight systemic racism and support social justice. 

All of this sounds great and it is a step further than the players have gotten in the past, but it’s also nothing new. Let’s not forget that several owners, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, kneeled with players before, but when they didn’t get the response they wanted from the players, they quickly returned to threats and ignorant comments about anthem protests. 

The NFL has already thrown $89 million at the Players Coalition in 2017, after a proposed initiative to address issues pertinent to bringing about change in African American communities.  

The deal was struck, but the term “police brutality” was never mentioned in any of the communications between the league and a coalition of players who brought their concerns to the league. Colin Kaepernick was also kept out of the negotiations, which rubbed some players the wrong way and caused a fracture in the coalition, with guys like Eric Reid suggesting that Malcolm Jenkins sold out the movement for some money.

Said Reid: “Malcolm kicked Colin out of the coalition following the meeting in New York at the beginning of the season,” Reid said. “There was a group message, I guess he was the administrator of the message, and he took Colin out.” 

Three years later, no one really knows what exactly has been done with the money and things have continued to worsen in this country regarding police brutality and oppression of minorities, leading to a boiling point that hit full burn when George Floyd was killed and the protests followed all around the world. 

Less Lip Service, Bring Back Kap

At this point, Kaepernick is more a symbol of white oppression than just a quarterback looking for a job. He’s a cruel reminder of what happens when people of color challenge the establishment 

For Carroll to admit that he regrets not signing Kaepernick does very little to ease the pain and anger brewing inside of the NFL’s African-American players. In fact, it’s another disingenuous slap in the face to Black people, players, Kap and former 49ers teammate Reid, who both reached a settlement with the NFL concerning their collusion grievances against the league in February 2019.

“I regret that we weren’t the one way back when that just did it just to do it, even though I thought that it wasn’t the right fit necessarily for us at the time,” Carroll said. “The reason it wasn’t the right fit is because I held him in such high regard I didn’t see him as a backup quarterback and I didn’t want to put him in that situation with Russ. It just didn’t feel like it would fit right. That’s the way I felt about it. So I just wish it would happen, and I wish we would have been a part of it when the time was available then. We’re kind of set up right now, so football-wise, it doesn’t seem to fit us like I said. But there’s a lot of time here. We’ll see what happens.”

Carroll said it’s clear now that Kaepernick was “right on point” with what he was protesting.

“He was right on it,” the coach said. “He was right on the topics about police brutality and inequality, and he was right on the subject matter at the time. That’s so obvious now where maybe all of the flak that flew about not honoring the flag and all the other things that were not even a part of the demonstration or what his intent was at all, that just skewed the whole discussion, I don’t think that’s around now. It’s different at this time frame.”

Carroll’s comments really don’t make anyone feel any better and Jenkins, now a safety with the New Orleans Saints recently stated that efforts by Commissioner Goodell and the NFL to support players fighting for social justice have fallen short because they have yet to properly address their handling of Kaepernick.

“I still don’t think [the NFL has] gotten it right. Until they apologize, specifically, to Colin Kaepernick, or assign him to a team, I don’t think that they will end up on the right side of history,” Jenkins, who is the co-founder of the Players Coalition, said Tuesday in an appearance on “CBS This Morning.”

It’s hard to embrace this new change of heart by the white NFL community when Kaepernick is still being blackballed and excusing are still being made as to why he’s not signed. The sham workout that they held for him last season in Atlanta speaks to this. 

Kaepernick is the central figure and catalyst for everything that has transpired. The fact that white folks with power are scared to death over the unity the world has shown doesn’t say anything, other than they are fearful of losing money and will tell the players anything, just to avoid another kneeling catastrophe. 

It’s not enough. Throwing money at the problem isn’t enough. Saying that the player’s voices will now be heard isn’t enough. 

We’ve heard it all before. There’s been a lot of lip service, but until the NFL officially apologizes to Kaepernick, the efforts of owners and the commissioner to act as if they had a revelation in the past few weeks will be looked upon as bogus by Black America.

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