Is It Time for Colin Kaepernick to Lead The Movement He Started?

And so history will come to remember the fact that Colin Kaepernick started as an NFL quarterback. They will recall how he came within a few plays of becoming a Super Bowl champion, and how he holds a playoff record for a quarterback of 163 rushing yards.  

Perhaps history will also recall that Kap is one of only three players to ever throw for two scores, and run for two more in an NFL playoff game.

But right now, Kaepernick is not known for being a football player, but for being the catalyst of a movement.  To date, he has not spoken directly to the news media in nearly a year.  But that hasnt stopped the media, or the President, from continually speaking his name.  

rolandsmartin on Twitter

A good reminder that some police officers understand that social injustice exists-and that they have a role to…

As it stands, Kaepernicks career as a professional football player is in doubt. 

Even though the National Football League and the NFLPA are currently mulling plans to incorporate social activism into the league’s rainbow of charitable efforts, Colin Kaepernick likely will never see an NFL field again.   

As intelligent as he is, I wonder if he is equally pragmatic.  Indeed, Id say he struggled with getting his point across early on.  Even though I personally saw no problem with his pig-cop socks, they became an excuse to segue from discussing police brutality and oppression. 

The meme published to social media comparing the relationship between Ray Lewis and Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to that of the characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained that was attributed to Kaps lady-friend Nessa Diab were simply making light of an obvious comparison that had already been made by many.  However, it also deflected attention from the true reason for Kaps protest in much the same way the pig-cop socks did. 

Kaepernicks current plight has been compared to that of Muhammad Ali.  Yes, in many ways that connection is undeniable.  As most are aware, Ali refused to be drafted into a war against other oppressed people of color when he stated that he was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. 

On June 20, 1967 he was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and banned from boxing for three years. Ali appealed the sentence and avoided jail time.  But it was a grisly pound of flesh to pay.  Three prime years of his career, countless friends and millions in earnings were lost.

NBC News – Muhammad Ali on not going to war


As I type these words, Kap has not played football in 10 months.  And the President of the United States keeps mentioning him for two reasons; he realizes that a negative endorsement from him makes Kaps name curdle in the minds of even the most well-intentioned would-be employers of his talents.  Also, to set himself up as the voice of Americanism (white supremacy) and patriotism (indoctrination). 

Im not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over, Ali said a week before his scheduled induction ceremony. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldnt have to draft me, Id join tomorrow. — Muhammad Ali 

Yesterday, as I watched the morning talking heads on the cable sports networks blather on, several individuals mentioned the need for Kaepernick to speak for himself.  Initially, when owners would say they wanted to hear Kap actually SAY he wanted to play football, I believed that Colin had already stated his desire to continue playing football. So, asking him to re-state that desire seemed like they wanted him to sit, roll over and beg for his supper. 

Now, with the advantage of time, I do believe its time for Kaepernick to speak up.  However, not about football.  Because of his actions, he is now the face of a movement. A movement whose total dimensions are being realized before our very eyes.

Cris Carter on Twitter

We’re at a critical time in the NFL,this movement needs a leader and spokesperson .It all started with you @Kaepernick7 #ImWithKap #Itstime

Though the current trend of NFL players who continue to protest during the anthem, either by kneeling, locking arms or chosing to remain in the locker room was due to the constant expectoration coming from the White House, their actions have reignited a protest movement within the league that had begun to lose steam. 

Those ripples continue to reach out and affect others.

Things have clearly gotten out of control. As a pragmatist, I will admit, I initially doubted the merits of Colin Kaepernicks protest and questioned his strategy.

I was wrong.

There is now no doubt in my mind that what he did last season was a courageous, prophetic, self-sacrificial act that has captivated a nation and inspired a powerful movement.

If I had his cellphone number, I would tell him that.

As Kaps message has now been distorted, co-opted and used to further divide us along the very racial lines he was highlighting, we as players have a responsibility to come together and respond collectively. But how can this happen practically?

Seattle Seahawks OT Russell Okung in Players Tribune

Kaepernick wants to continue his career as an NFL QB.  The fact that his representatives recently reached out to the Tennessee Titans regarding their needs proves that.  But the fact that the Titans have decided to go another route, despite their glaring need, proves why America needs to constantly be reminded of its refusal to look in the mirror and recognize its pock-marked veneer. 

John Oliver – NFL Anthem Protest

Enjoy the very best of John Oliver 🙂 #johnoliver

Thats why I feel like it is past time for Kaepernick to speak up, to take the reins of a protest movement that he created. 

When Muhammad Ali was banned from boxing, he did a well-publicized speaking tour that hit up college campuses and made stops on talk shows and the like. 

Though he was every bit as loquacious, braggadocios and charming as he ever was, there were times when it became clear that his role in the movement, and within the Nation of Islam, was more inspirational than functional.

He was a great boxer, an inspiring athlete and a world-class personality.  He was part artist, part pugilist, part poet, but none would call him the leader of a movement. He was a catalyst.  A divining rod of sorts, causing some to dig deep down within themselves to question their own definition of what justice is, and act upon that definition.

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At this point, we know that Kap has inspired many of his fellow football players to knee from peewee league all the way up to the NFL.

Right now, we dont know what his full potential is or what he plans to do.  But an unprecedented movement has evolved in the NFL since he first sat during the National Anthem. 

He continues to educate while donating time and money via his Know Your Rights camp and other initiatives.  

Perhaps his next audible should be to step forward in a more direct manner.  We know him as an activist, we know him as a football player, but Im curious about Colin the speaker, Colin the motivator and Colin the leader.

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