NFL’s “Let’s Listen Together” Initiative Is Missing Colin Kaepernick

    The NFL has finalized plans to partner with players on social justice issues, announcing a “Let’s Listen Together” initiative that will publicize the players’ work on social and racial equality, according to usatoday.com. The initiative is the culmination of months of negotiating and discussions between commissioner Roger Goodell and a contingent of NFL players led by Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and retired receiver Anquan Boldin. 

    In a controversial move that was received with mixed emotions throughout the African-American community and within the Players Coalition, owners earmarked $89 million over a seven-year period for the project. The final structure includes plans for digital content, brand sports, social media support and individual letters from players and owners describing why social justice is a priority.

    “The collaboration between the NFL and its players should be celebrated, as it’s the first professional league or entity that has taken the concerns of its players and put resources behind it,” Boldin said in a statement. “Our country has some real issues when it comes to social and racial equality that must be addressed. The only way these issues will get solved is to fight together.”

    The problem with this entire situation, other than the fact it appears to some that the NFL protests were sold out for some hush money and Jenkins took it upon himself to make that decision for everyone, is that Colin Kaepernick is not involved in any shape, form or fashion with this new collaborative effort to help fight social injustice. 

    USA TODAY Sports on Twitter

    Talk about a glaring omission. https://t.co/i2EyPGcQPl

    Said Goodell: “We are pleased to have developed a new initiative that focuses on creating meaningful solutions to improve our communities. In developing this plan, we have taken the lead from our players and are honored to join them in this work. Their work has deepened our understanding of the unique platform we have to help advance progress in a profound and unifying way.”

    That sounds great, but the guy who magnified the importance of such a platform and risked his livelihood to spark this movement that now has NFL owners  and the Commissioner listening to the needs of the African-American community and the concerns of the players who comprise the majority of the billion dollar enterprise is nowhere to be found.  

    The herd of Kapernick-inspired protests that rocked the sports landscape,  the response from a divided America and an oppressive, inflammatory POTUS,  the offspring issues with the national anthem and respecting the flag, the national debate it instigated and the way he forced society and sports to collide, connect and compromise to an extent, is not something that can be put behind us. 

    Apparently, the NFL wants to bury Kap’s memory from existence. They are willing to cut deals, but want to continue to blackball him in his prime, not only from a job in the NFL, but from the memory of the NFL community. It’s too late. He’s already changed the world. 

    Colin Kaepernick on Twitter

    My ATL brother, T.I. @troubleman31 wanted to join my #MillionDollarPledge & go #10for10 w/me to match my $10k & asked that I donate $10k to Angel by Nature, an organization founded by Trae the Truth @traeabn in Houston. See a list of the donations at https://t.co/aK6dKa5Boa! https://t.co/ERgw7echLA

    With his continued philanthropic duties and support of celebrities speaking out against injustices plaguing those who cant speak for themselves, Kaepernick fits into this new effort perfectly. His presence is not a threat to any deal that is being made to further the groundwork that he laid with his bare hands.  

    His insight, fearlessness and willingness to show strength in the face of adversity would bring great credibility to this union between NFL players and the league to officially bury the hatchet, put the tumultuous 2017 season behind them with an understanding that Kaepernick is a hero for what he did. His intentions were not to hurt the NFL or disrespect America in anyway. An acceptance of both sides to move forward with a positive mindframe and an example of how non-violent protest in America once again brought credibility to the founding principles of our nation. A nation where oppression of any group is frowned upon and must be eliminated.   

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.