Because we’ve all been on pins and needles waiting on his thoughts, Jesse Jackson has weighed in on the refusal of pretty much every NFL team to sign Colin Kaepernick. For what it’s worth, Jackson believes that the NFL and the players association are derelict in not forcing a team to sign the quarterback, who has become a lightning rod of controversy over the past year.
“The NFL has ignored him,” Jackson said in an interview with Black Sports Online. “The commissioner has not spoken out to say he should not be ‘blackballed,’ as it were. But more than that, the players’ association has been silent, and it’s their silence that astonishes me.”
Jackson and others believe Kaepernick has been blackballed from the NFL as a result of his national anthem protests and comments about police brutality against minorities.
Jackson asserts that Kaepernick has been punished for participating in “legitimate, American and free protests against abusive behavior toward black people.”
For the record, the NFL Players Association has expressed plenty of support of Kaepernick, so Jackson is missing some of the facts in his assertion.
Here’s the thing: Kaepernick may have some legitimate points regarding police treatment of black men, but refusing to stand for the national anthem is a boneheaded way to make those points (and the t-shirt and praise for Fidel Castro don’t lend credibility either). But regardless of what your beliefs on Kaepernick’s protests are, the First Amendment that we all love gives him the right to say what he wants to say, no matter how ridiculous.
At the same time, our wonderful free enterprise system gives team owners the right to say no to signing Kaepernick. You see, Rev. Jackson, the NFL is a private business, and there’s no guarantee of employment in professional football for anybody. I’ll never understand why anyone believes that Kaepernick has a right to a starting quarterback position anywhere.
It’s the same principle that applied when, say, Curt Schilling said something controversial and ESPN fired him. The brouhaha over Colin Kaepernick has led the NFL to basically declare him persona non grata. If it’s good for a controversial conservative, it should be good for a provocative liberal too. And if a team wants to take a chance on Kaepernick, good for them, but if they don’t, good for them all the same.
At the end of the day, free enterprise is as important as free speech.