The Problem With the Colin Kaepernick Media Stunt


by Eli Aronson, Staff Writer
Colin Kaepernick is finally receiving a chance at playing in the NFL again. 1,049 days since Kaepernick last took a snap behind center, the NFL hosted a workout for all NFL teams to evaluate the 2019 version of Kaepernick last Saturday.
Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, opted out of his contract in 2017 after being informed that the 49ers planned on releasing him. During his final season in San Francisco, Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem as a form of peaceful protest against police brutality and racial injustices. Since his last game, Kaepernick has been itching to return to the league. However, no league owner has taken a chance on the outspoken 32 year-old just yet. Even President Trump suggested that he “find a country that works better for him.” 
In late 2017, both Kaepernick and his fellow ex-teammate and social justice activist Eric Reid filed a grievance against the NFL. They argued they were “depriv[ed] of employment rights in retaliation for [their] leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice.” Just this past year, the two sides settled leaving Kaepernick and Reid with a combined $10 million. No other details were disclosed.
Reid, now employed by the Carolina Panthers, has played in all ten of the team’s games and is third on the team in tackles. Reid is critical of the NFL’s planned workout for his friend, calling it “disingenuous” and a “PR stunt.” Reid’s reasoning behind his theory is that most free agents are contacted by the team of interest, not by the league. Additionally, general managers are traveling with their teams on Saturdays, so what important evaluator would be at a workout for a 32 year-old quarterback instead of preparing for their game on Sunday?
While Reid brings up two valid reasons, there are more reasons to be skeptical. Why is Kaepernick being given this “opportunity” three years since his last game? The NFL could have scheduled a workout for Kaepernick any day in the last three years. Why now? Why at the age of 32?
The mainstream media’s story is that this type of workout provides teams with the opportunity to evaluate him in a group setting. It is rumored that many teams feared that bringing him in for a workout would lead to an obligation to sign him so that they wouldn’t be viewed as racist.
Still, it does not quite make sense why this would appear out of nowhere after the media had stopped talking about Kaepernick months ago. Back in February, the NFL never released the specific details of how much of that money was going to Kaepernick. The NFL attempted to hide the details of this settlement, but why else would they be organizing a workout for a guy that is the most hated player in many front offices? They only gave him a week to prepare and when he asked for a later date, the NFL would not comply with his request. Kaepernick has been set up to fail, and the NFL is still scared of him. He was fired because he spoke out, and that is full of racial implications: a white man speaking out about white issues in America wouldn’t see the type of exiling that Kaepernick did. This is a scheme created by NFL executives in hopes of putting a much too late amends to the drama.
What’s more, the NFL announced that teams were not allowed to ask about his kneeling or protests during the interviews on Saturday in hopes of not sparking up the old debate.
While 13 confirmed teams used their opportunity of due diligence on the former star studded quarterback, Junior and avid football fan Luca Craigie doesn’t buy into it. “I feel like the opportunity he is being given is more of a media ploy by the NFL,” said Luca.  “Does he still have it in him? I’m not sure. I’ve heard he’s been staying in shape but three years separated from the league will affect anyone, regardless of talent.”
Similarly, senior, and member of Latin’s Black Student Union, Brandon Porter, also questions the NFL’s reasoning behind the workout: “If [the NFL] actually cared, they wouldn’t put the workout on a Saturday in November,” Brandon shared. “I think it’s messed up.”
However, there are pieces of Kaepernick to be skeptical about as well. Last fall, Nike released a commercial in honor of the 30 year anniversary for their slogan, “Just Do It.” Kaepernick, who is on a sponsorship deal with Nike, narrated the commercial and is estimated to have made millions of dollars from it. In the advertisement, he says, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Meanwhile, he made millions of dollars from the advertisement.  He still has a wife, he still has a family, and he is making a ton of money. Is he really sacrificing everything?
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no one should use it as an excuse to neglect Kaepernick or the NFL. No one knows what Kaepernick, or any other “kneeler,” has been through, except for themselves. They all have reasons to kneel just as those who stand have reasons to stand. It is unfair to be critical of someone’s decision without knowing their full story. No one knows each other’s entire backstory and morals, and there is no written rule – nor should there be – on proper etiquette for the national anthem.  There were around 8 million living in the country when the national anthem was written, and today there are well over 300 million. Times have changed and if NFL owners want to continue to ignore that (not all do), the NFL will inevitably suffer. There are more Kaepernicks and Reids of the world and they come in all different races, religions, sexual orientations, and any other imaginable minority. Football is “America’s Game,” but if owners refuse to acknowledge the diversity of 2019 and the future of America, the billion dollar product that everyone seems to love will begin to dwindle.