Saturday, October 31, 2020

Does 2020 represent the final chance for the NFL to do right by Colin Kaepernick?

September 9, 2020 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( It doesn’t feel like it but the National Football League’s first slate of games of the 2020 NFL season begins this weekend. The coronavirus pandemic and protests regarding police brutality against Black people have dominated much of the attention over the last several months. Clearly, both of those important matters have bled into sports and will continue to do so even for the most popular professional sport in America, the NFL. Before live sports returned, some sports fans got their “fix” by watching E-sports, humans who would compete professionally while playing sports video games. One of the most popular video game franchises is Madden NFL football, which has an obvious link to the NFL as the preeminent football video game.

For this year’s installment of the Madden NFL video game franchise, Madden 21, Colin Kaepernick will return as a playable character for the first time since the 2016 NFL season. The publisher of the video game, Electronic Arts, said this about Kaepernick’s inclusion in the game, “Knowing that our EA SPORTS experiences are platforms for players to create, we want to make Madden NFL a place that reflects Colin’s position and talent, rates him as a starting QB, and empowers our fans to express their hopes for the future of football. We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today.”

NFL-Colin Kaepernick

By now, most Americans know the story of Kaepernick regarding his protest during the national anthem against police brutality and racial injustice against Black people back in 2016 and how he has not been signed by a team since that season ended. Unfortunately, the developers and publishers of the Madden video game quickly got rid of Kaepernick like the NFL did. This unique year perhaps stands as the final option for Kaepernick to return to the NFL despite not playing since 2016.

It is pretty clear that NFL owners avoided signing Colin Kaepernick as even a backup quarterback for their teams for a couple of reasons: they disagreed with his protest regarding police brutality and there is a “fear” of public backlash of NFL fans if he signed with their team. 2020 has proven that sports and social issues have intertwined more than perhaps ever before as evidenced by how outspoken many Black athletes in both college and professional sports have become. They are emboldened by the current protests that continue to happen in response to the murders and violence against unarmed Black women and men by police. The public sentiment against protesting during the national anthem by white people is not as negative now as it was in 2016 and even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that Kaepernick was right about his original protest.

Due to COVID-19, there might be more “street” free agents, guys who are brought onto NFL teams who are unemployed as NFL players, signed than ever before to play football. A positive COVID-19 test could knock a starting quarterback out possibly for a few of weeks and it would help to have a quarterback with experience and that other NFL players could rally around for a few weeks to save a team’s NFL season. Few NFL players in the league right now would be more respected than Colin Kaepernick and he should also be viewed favorably by some of the teams that utilize athletic Black starting quarterbacks like the Seahawks, Texans, and Cardinals.

The NFL also cannot say that Kaepernick would be too “rusty” considering the Cowboys are giving a chance to Kaepernick’s former 49ers teammate Aldon Smith to be a defensive end despite not playing the NFL since 2015. There is also no need to worry about NFL fans having a massive negative reaction to Kaepernick at NFL games because most NFL stadiums will have a greatly reduced capacity or no fans at all due to safety measures brought on by the pandemic. There are no excuses left for the National Football League to give Colin Kaepernick a valid opportunity to restart what was wrongly taken from him in his career. Much stranger things have happened in 2020 than Colin Kaepernick returning to the NFL.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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