sunny.png
Sunday August 18th, 2019 11:14AM

America still in turmoil a year after Kaepernick's protest

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

What started as a protest against police brutality has mushroomed a year later into a divisive debate over the future of a football player who refused to stand for the national anthem and now faces what his fans see as blackballing for speaking out in a country roiled by racial strife.

Supporters of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick demonstrated outside the Los Angeles Rams' Aug. 12 preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, part of calls for boycotts of the upcoming NFL season. Film director Spike Lee is promoting a rally on his behalf.

On the opposing end of a wide range of opinions, some fans say Kaepernick shouldn't have sat or kneeled during the national anthem, while others argue the quarterback's lack of a job is more about his talent.

The once-rising star and Super Bowl quarterback has been unemployed since March, when he opted out of his contract and became a free agent who could sign with any team. At least three NFL clubs have openly discussed the idea of signing him, but the embattled quarterback has yet to sign a contract with training camps well underway.

Just weeks away from the regular season, he has become a symbol of the clash of celebrity, sports and social issues as more people —including players, fans, politicians, team owners and pundits — invoke his name to debate thorny issues of patriotism and race. Other prominent NFL players have sat out or demonstrated during anthems this preseason, one saying his decision was bolstered by a recent white supremacists' rally in Virginia that turned deadly.

"There's a lot going on inside people's hearts right now," said Dan Rascher, a sports business professor at the University of San Francisco. "This may have been a catalyst for that even though it's not about Colin Kaepernick, but about our country and who we are."

Other players who joined Kaepernick in protest are still employed. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins pledged to continue his protests this season, tight end Martellus Bennett signed a free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers and linebacker Brandon Marshall stayed with the Denver Broncos even as he lost two endorsements for kneeling during the anthem.

Still, some fans say they believe Kaepernick has been passed up as punishment for his actions, which initially went unnoticed until the third preseason game last year.

The chorus gets louder every time a quarterback vacancy is filled on an NFL team, such as when the Miami Dolphins brought 34-year-old quarterback Jay Cutler out of a short-lived retirement to lead its franchise. Cutler was out of work — like Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, and others — and planned to work as a television analyst before the Dolphins reunited him with coach Adam Gase.

"Either some owners and/or the NFL are punishing him for speaking out, or they've decided that it's best for business to sweep these valid issues under the rug in order not to upset fans who, in our opinion, don't have a valid reason to be upset about Colin Kaepernick being on their team," said Tim Clark, who is organizing boycotts of all 32 teams for the NFL's regular season opener.

Color of Change, an online civil rights organization, flooded Baltimore Ravens headquarters with telephone calls when the team didn't quickly sign him as it openly considered options to react to an injury. The Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network, which demonstrated over the weekend, says it will boycott the Rams and Chargers games at Memorial Coliseum. A change.org petition calling for a season-long boycott of the NFL has collected more than 170,000 signatures.

"We understand the NFL is very important to you. We also understand the purpose of Colin Kaepernick's protest is FAR more important than any games you will ever watch," the petition said.

Elie Mystal, an editor at the "Above the Law" legal commentary website, agreed with the proposed boycotts.

"Kaepernick doesn't have a job because he spoke out about race," Mystal said. "That's the thing you're not allowed to do in our sporting culture and most of our popular culture, unless you're so over-the-top talented that they need you for winning."

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem while Rams defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist during Saturday's game between the two teams.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Martellus Bennett's brother, sat during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the second straight week on Friday. He was joined by two teammates standing by him. Bennett said the death of a young woman protesting white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, underscored his decision.

"First of all, I want people to understand I love the military. My father was in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American, but I don't love segregation," he said. "I don't love riots. I don't love oppression. I don't love gender slander."

Some fans say Kaepernick has not been signed because he's had an inconsistent career. He played in the 2013 Super Bowl but faded in the seasons leading up to the protests, winning just three games in his last 19 starts.

He had two seasons where he was the starting quarterback for all 16 of his team's games, including the 2014 season that ended with San Francisco missing the playoffs. He suffered from a shoulder injury for half of 2015 and began the 2016 season as a backup, then started 11 games. The 49ers finished in last place for the second season in a row.

"Do these people (complaining) about Kaepernick going unsigned not understand that he sucks, and he's a liability/distraction?" tweeted Joe Patterson, a business management major at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Q Scores Marketing Evaluations, said Kaepernick's popularity has plummeted.

"He's very polarizing and much more in the consciences of the general population as well as sports fans and, creating, I would think, a pretty big dilemma for the NFL teams as to where he's going to go," Schafer said.

The fallout wasn't all negative: Kaepernick inspired a movement as high school athletes across the country kneeled during the anthem. Kaepernick had the 17th highest jersey sale in May and came in 39th in all merchandise from May through July 31. He's the only player in the top 50 in sales without a job.

Kaepernick, who is white and African-American, took a stand that was unpopular among many whites, which is what boxing great Muhammad Ali did when he refused to be drafted into military during the Vietnam war.

Ali was convicted of draft evasion, which was later overturned, banned from boxing and stripped of his heavyweight title.

It's uncertain how history will treat Kaepernick. But just as Ali was linked to the "black power" movement, Kaepernick has become linked with the Black Lives Matter movement, says Soyica Diggs Colbert, a Georgetown University professor who is writing a book on black movements.

"When we think about how Black Lives Matter as a political movement gets woven into sports," Kaepernick's certainly the key figure in that conversation, she said.

___

Follow Janie Har on Twitter at https://twitter.com/janiehar and contact her at jhar@ap.org. Follow Jesse J. Holland on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland , on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland and contact him at jholland@ap.org.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
America still in turmoil a year after Kaepernick's protest
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest is still causing debate in and around the NFL a year later as the embattled quarterback looks for a chance to play again
12:01PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Mastermind of lottery fraud faces 25-year prison sentence
A former lottery computer programmer who has pleaded guilty in Iowa to running a criminal scheme that allowed him to collect $2 million in lottery winnings in four states is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday
9:42AM ( 2 hours ago )
1979 Klan-Nazi attack survivor hopes for a 'justice river'
Leader of a march attacked by Klan, Nazis in Greensboro in 1979 sees hope for a 'justice river'
9:33AM ( 2 hours ago )
U.S. News
Attack victims came from around world to celebrate Barcelona
The victims of vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort came from around the world and across generations
11:48AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Frankfurt held by Freiburg on Boateng's return to Bundesliga
Kevin-Prince Boateng made his Eintracht Frankfurt debut but was unable to inspire the side to victory on his Bundesliga return in a 0-0 draw at Freiburg on Sunday
11:40AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Merkel ally backs away from cap on refugees entering Germany
A key ally of Angela Merkel appeared to back away from his long-standing call for a cap on refugees _ a major point of friction with the German chancellor
11:16AM ( 50 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Huddersfield beats Newcastle to make it 2 wins out of 2
Huddersfield made it two wins out of two at the start of its first Premier League season by beating Newcastle 1-0, condemning its fellow promoted team to a second successive loss
10:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
IndyCar driver Hunter-Reay cleared to race following wreck
Ryan Hunter-Reay has been cleared to drive in Sunday's IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway following a violent accident during qualifying that sent him to the hospital
10:19AM ( 1 hour ago )
Olympic champ Simone Biles back in gym as she weighs options
Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles returns to gym as she weighs options
10:01AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Rodgers looks good, Cousins doesn't; Packers top Skins 21-17
Aaron Rodgers made a surprise start and played well on his only drive for Green Bay in a 21-17 win over Washington
12:24AM ( 11 hours ago )
Prescott, Bryant connect quickly as Cowboys top Colts 24-19
Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant connected for a 32-yard touchdown on their first series of the preseason, sparking the Dallas Cowboys in a 24-19 exhibition victory over the Indianapolis Colts
11:19PM ( 12 hours ago )
Marshawn Lynch sits once again during national anthem
Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat on the bench while the anthem was played before Oakland's game against the Los Angeles Rams
10:30PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Online Football
NFL linebacker Greene says dropped gun charge 'was false'
An NFL linebacker who had a New Jersey gun charge against him dropped says people started looking at him differently and accusing him of being a thug even though the case against him 'was false.'
8:45PM ( 1 day ago )
Gun charge against NFL linebacker Khaseem Greene is dropped
His attorney says a gun charge against an NFL linebacker has been dropped because the man who said he gave him a weapon admitted he lied
1:26PM ( 1 day ago )
Can JT Barrett pass better for Ohio State in 2017?
The overarching question at Ohio State's training camp is whether quarterback J.T. Barrett has the ability to become a better passer.
10:59AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Mastermind of lottery fraud faces 25-year prison sentence
A former lottery computer programmer who has pleaded guilty in Iowa to running a criminal scheme that allowed him to collect $2 million in lottery winnings in four states is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday
9:42AM ( 2 hours ago )
1979 Klan-Nazi attack survivor hopes for a 'justice river'
Leader of a march attacked by Klan, Nazis in Greensboro in 1979 sees hope for a 'justice river'
9:33AM ( 2 hours ago )
Comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies
Dick Gregory, who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84.
By The Associated Press
8:08AM ( 3 hours ago )
Massive counterprotest upstages Boston "free speech rally"
Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans upstaged planned "free speech rally" by a small group in Boston a week after a violent clash in Virginia
1:13AM ( 10 hours ago )
Researchers find wreckage of WWII-era USS Indianapolis
Researchers find wreckage of USS Indianapolis, ship that carried critical components of Hiroshima bomb and became worst maritime disaster in Navy's history
12:42AM ( 11 hours ago )