Listen, I could be cynical about Colin Kaepernick. I could write that his shoulder injury that kept him from practicing and starting for Week 1, a September 12 Monday night game against the Rams might have given him some reason to keep himself in the press.
I could write that Kaepernick’s relationship with the 49ers had soured after they ignored his request to be traded earlier this year, and maybe he wanted to make a point about his value to the team. I could write that Kaepernick’s $114 million, 6-year contract with the 49ers makes him the 14th highest-paid NFL player. That puts him in the top 0.8 percent of the millionaire’s club that is professional football.
Kaepernick, who was adopted by white parents when he was young, said that his parents never really made him feel like he was the odd one out because of his race. His parents allowed him to be himself, he said.
“I knew I was different to my parents and my older brother and sister,” the 28-year-old quarterback said in the interview. “I never felt that I was supposed to be white. Or black, either. My parents just wanted to let me be who I needed to be.”
But, like many multi-racial families, he suffered a bit of embarrassment and awkwardness when he was mistaken for someone not part of the rest of his family.
“We used to go on these summer driving vacations and stay at motels,” he said. “And every year, in the lobby of every motel, the same thing always happened, and it only got worse as I got older and taller. It didn’t matter how close I stood to my family, somebody would walk up to me, a real nervous manager, and say: ‘Excuse me. Is there something I can help you with?’”
I could write that none of this is the reason the 28-year-old decided to make a stand by sitting for the national anthem of the country that gave him the opportunity to be at the top of the economic, social, and celebrity food chain.
But I’m not cynical like that, so I will simply write this.
Colin Kaepernick is an American. He enjoys the civil rights offered to all Americans, to speak his mind. He enjoys the economic freedom offered to all Americans, to earn a lot of money. He enjoys the social status available to all Americans who work hard to achieve success. He enjoys using his God-given talents and abilities to entertain millions of us while playing a game while others make 1/10,000th of his salary for sleeping in a container truck in Afghanistan.
If Kaepernick really believes that the best use of his massive fame is to disrespect his own nation because social injustice exists, and some people are raised without the racial harmony he experienced, he has that right. God bless him for it.
But maybe, instead of playing the “God Damn America” card, it would be more productive if he could take his $114 million and use it to help some of those who would appreciate his help. That wouldn’t include the gang-banger thugs who killed Dwyane Wade’s cousin in Chicago, or Micah Xavier Johnson, who used his military training to execute 11 Dallas police officers (because they were white).
In the end, this is America. It’s a free country.
And Colin Kaepernick is free to be an idiot.