Kaeper­nick’s protest lives on!

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT -

COLIN Kaeper­nick lost the Su­per Bowl and is out of work, but his­tory is go­ing to re­mem­ber him as a win­ner even if he never plays an­other NFL game again.

The mush­room­ing events of the NFL in re­cent weeks ce­mented his legacy and it could not be any greater even if he matched Tom Brady’s five Su­per Bowl vic­to­ries. The for­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back emerged as a rebel with a cause last sum­mer: a mes­sage he sent by kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them and one which mes­merised the United States and the whole world to some ex­tent.

You may dis­agree with Kaeper­nick, who peace­fully wanted to raise aware­ness of the so­cial in­jus­tices in the US, but you can­not deny the last­ing im­pres­sion and the dif­fi­cult but nec­es­sary dis­cus­sions and re­ac­tions he has trig­gered.

So much has hap­pened since Kaeper­nick first took a knee dur­ing a pre-sea­son game last sum­mer that it is easy to for­get ex­actly what he said in ex­plain­ing his ac­tion.

“I am not go­ing to stand up to show pride in a flag for a coun­try that op­presses black peo­ple and peo­ple of colour,” the quar­ter­back said at the time.

“To me, this is big­ger than foot­ball and it would be self­ish on my part to look the other way.

“There are bod­ies in the street and peo­ple get­ting paid leave and get­ting away with murder,” he said The cause of Kaeper­nick’s dis­con­tent was the rash of po­lice shoot­ings around the coun­try that left African Amer­i­can cit­i­zens dead with­out ret­ri­bu­tion be­ing paid by the ac­cused of­fi­cers. .Kaeper­nick, 29, hurt his cause even more last Novem­ber when he de­clined to ex­er­cise his vote in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“I’ve been very dis­con­nected from the sys­tem­atic op­pres­sion as a whole,” Kaeper­nick said.“So, for me, it’s an­other face that’s go­ing to be the face of that sys­tem of op­pres­sion. And to me, it didn’t re­ally mat­ter who went in there.

He said he was not even reg­is­tered to vote. His stand on that sub­ject was stupid and self-de­feat­ing.

On the other hand, Kaeper­nick has sac­ri­ficed his ca­reer, his time, his rep­u­ta­tion, and a boat­load of money to fight for his cause. The ma­jor­ity of us would not have the courage to do what he has done. Even though he was out of work this off­sea­son, Kaeper­nick stood firm on his pledge to do­nate $1 mil­lion to or­gan­i­sa­tions that he be­lieves help com­mu­ni­ties. Some of those or­ga­ni­za­tions are con­tro­ver­sial, but it is his money and not ev­ery­body sees things the same way. He has also in­spired oth­ers. Ea­gles safety Mal­colm Jenk­ins was al­ways a thought­ful man, but the nudge from Kaeper­nick’s de­ci­sion last sea­son also made him a proac­tive one. You can see Jenk­ins ev­ery week dur­ing the sea­son rais­ing his right fist in protest of the same so­cial in­jus­tices that fu­eled Kaeper­nick’s an­them kneel-down. What you don’t see as of­ten is Jenk­ins tak­ing the time to talk to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials about how to im­prove re­la­tions be­tween the po­lice and African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Is it not those ac­tions that mat­ter so much more than the an­them protests?

This, how­ever, is so much big­ger than Kaeper­nick’s ini­tial mes­sage now.

It may have started as a party of one, but last week­end it reached its crescendo with the help of ad­ver­sar­ial com­ments from Pres­i­dent Trump at a cam­paign-style rally in Alabama.

The pres­i­dent wants the “SOBs off the field” and “fired” if they refuse to stand for “our great na­tional an­them.”

Re­mark­ably, the pres­i­dent man­aged to unite the play­ers with the own­ers and even com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell, all of whom spoke out against Trump’s divi­sive re­marks.

The best story of the week came out of Ten­nessee, where Ti­tans re­ceiver Rishard Matthews took a knee for the first time be­fore his team’s home game against Seat­tle in re­sponse to Trump’s com­ments in Alabama.

He was not the only NFL player to do so, but his knee had more im­pact than most for a cou­ple of rea­sons. He was Kaeper­nick’s for­mer team­mate at the Univer­sity of Ne­vada and he is from a mil­i­tary fam­ily.

His father served in the mil­i­tary for 23 years and his brother was killed two years ago in Afghanstan. — The En­quirer.

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