April 25, 2017, the height of the NBA Playoffs' first round, or if you're the perennial Finals participants, Golden State and Cleveland, you're doing like 'Bruh Man from the 5th floor' — 'jus chillin.' Elsewhere, arguably the two best players for their team this NBA season are facing off. The clear cut MVP, Russell Westbrook, can't seem to buy a game at this point though. I definitely feel for the brodie.
Although KD left Westbrook in Oklahoma City to join the NBA's version of the 'Monstars’, I can't hate on the man since he's from PG County, just can't do it. KD's also battled injury late this year and his former 'little bro' is tearing up the stat sheet, 'for the culture' anyway. Russell's series appears to be winding down, and perhaps he won't even be in the playoffs when the award is given to him during the 2nd round, making him a rare winner that was bounced from the postseason prematurely. The fact that he is getting no help from his supporting cast, and hasn't received much this whole year makes me sympathetic to his situation. But my heart also aches right now for a certain player, or better yet a certain type of player, in my own sport, football.
On August 14, 2016, Colin Kaepernick, now a free agent NFL Quarterback, took a stand for black people, and altered his life from that day forward. Black America respects him for his stand, but the consequences to this action have been black-ballesque all the way. Loss of endorsements, racial prejudice, public shame, and potential termination from the NFL. The question I ask is: Would any of this 'backlash' be occurring if he was white?
It's not like we haven't had our troubles finding a place in the NFL before. Black 'athletes' have had a longstanding history of not being allowed, if you will, to play QB in the league. They have to move to slot receiver, running back or corner etc. For example, my friend and former college teammate, Tre Roberson, holds the Indiana record for most TDs in a game, and also took Illinois State to the FCS title game in 2015, yet his playing days as a QB were numbered by time last year's pre-season camp rolled around.
If you rewind over 40 years, Archie Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in consecutive seasons in 1974 and 75, the only player ever to win twice. However, he wasn't even the Most Valuable Player of his team or the conference in 1975 when he won Heisman #2. Now, you may be asking why this is even relevant.
If it’s baffling to you too how Griffin won the Heisman and didn't win the other two trophies, it’s because his teammate and roommate, Cornelius Green, was one of the first pioneering black QBs in history and took home the hardware. Yet, 'Corny' was unable to play in the league as a QB even with his monumental resume and only had a brief stint playing receiver for the Cowboys and Seahawks after college. In a nutshell, that's been the state of culture defying black QBs over this entire time period. Starring at QB for a large, predominantly white institution and then being forced into something else on the next level. Maybe this sounds familiar. We've surely got our bright spots though, don't get me wrong.
Doug Williams brought a Lombardi trophy to 'Chocolate City.' Michael Vick, in his prime was the most electrifying player in sports, and today Cam Newton and Russell Wilson headline an established group of young QBs with multiple Super Bowl appearances between them as well. This list might as well include Kaepernick, who was much closer to winning than Newton and reached the big game a year faster than Wilson. So why not give Kaepernick his due?
It is because of the pigmentation in his skin. His political stance that should resonate with everyone—Americans exercising 'free speech’—is our constitutional right to protest.
I know many owners may disagree with how he did what he did, and they may even look at his recent history as a QB and say he's not good enough to lead our team. Trust me, I get it. But Colin Kaepernick did something that Dallas great, Tony Romo, never did. He led his team to the Super Bowl, and now he can't even a backup anywhere. It would behoove me to think that Kaepernick is useless, and isn't a top 2 QB for at least one of the 32 franchises in the league. But Josh Mccown can get signed right away? ‘Fishy’ is right, Spike.
When Time came out with its list of influential people in April, Kaepernick was right on the list. If he can influence so many in this country and others, why not sign the man to your organization? He can clearly still play in this league when given the opportunity and in the right system. Maybe it's karma, maybe it's the President's tweets. But it's definitely bigger than his play on the field. His W-L speak for themselves, and he has proven to be a winner more often than not.
He was given an opportunity by the league, as a black QB, when drafted in 2012, but today he having his opportunity stripped away from him for this same reason. He's black—outspoken and black. For black people everywhere, for black QBs, past and present, Kaepernick is putting something bigger than himself or his image on the line.
Everyday it's been a countdown to see which team will take Kaepernick, but to no avail. He showed us with his stance that he knows black lives matter.
But in the NFL, maybe they don't.