Kaepernick and the Star-Spangled Banner

Part II


Stefan Collins, Staff

Welcome back everybody, in part I we looked at Kaepernick’s playing career. In part II we will look at what has happened in the following years.

The Nike Commercial

In 2018 Kaepernick was asked to star in a Nike commercial, simply because he decided to kneel for the anthem in 2016. Nike knew this would work for the brand because of how beloved the former Quarterback is, especially amongst young, black athletes, who may have been loyal to other brands at the time. According to a quote by Edison Trends, a digital commerce research company, in an article by The Guardian: “Nike sales grew 31% from Sunday through Tuesday over Labor Day [the days in which the commercial was released] this year.” According to Alex Abad-Santos of Vox.com the 31% increase in sales totaled a, “Six billion dollar increase in [Nike’s] overall value.” Once again exceptional marketing by the pro child labor company.

Nike did not become the biggest sports brand in the world by being conservative with marketing decisions. Aside from profiting from unethical practices in Asian countries, Nike have also profited from being big and bold with their marketing. This commercial was no different. Nike’s marketers had dollar signs in their eyes and went with the slogan, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” The slogan is hilarious considering this is the company who have given Kaepernick, “a contract worth millions” according to Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report. Millions (plural) meaning at least two million dollars, likely considerably more. This is more than he would have earned in the NFL as a backup Quarterback. The Nike commercial and Kaepernick’s court settlement of “[Just] under $10 million” from the NFL according to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, have earned him considerably more money than he would have ever made as a back-up Quarterback in the NFL. To put things in perspective, Jamies Winston, who led the league in passing in 2019, is under contract with the New Orleans Saints for “a one year $1.1 million deal,” according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. It appears Kaepernick, having previously played on a contract worth $126 million, had no intention of playing for the mere salary of a back-up Quarterback in the NFL. However, his career after Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers suggests he would have been lucky to receive such a contract. His actions from the 2017 NFL offseason onwards have made it obvious that he doesn’t want to play.

2017 Contract negotiations

In 2017 the 49ers made several managerial changes. They hired Kyle Shannahan to be the Head Coach, who had groomed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan into the 2016 league MVP. They also hired General Manager John Lynch. Despite these changes, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers (meaning he resigned whilst under contract.) According to the 49ers’ website, Shannahan said in early 2017 that “He [Kaepernick] didn’t say [that he would opt out] for sure, but we had an idea he would go that route.” This was the first indication that Kaepernick did not want to play in the NFL anymore. After passing on the opportunity to play for one of the best offensive-minded coaches in the league, Kyle Shannahan, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carol attempted to sign the Free-Agent. Reportedly the two parties could not work out a deal due to monetary issues. The offer on the table has not been reported, but after Kaepernick proved himself to be an absolute joke of a player in his last two seasons, Carrol and the Seahawks would have had a hand full of aces in the negotiation process. If Kaepernick had any sense, he would have signed his name on the dotted line for the league minimum wage faster than his release time when throwing a football, which granted isn’t very quick.

The incident with the Ravens

Another team that showed interest in Kaepernick in the 2017 offseason was the Baltimore Ravens. According to a report by Lisa Redmond of NBC Sports, the Ravens were all for bringing him in to back up Joe Flacco. They came very close. However, something happened that changed the mind of Ravens owner Steve Biscotti. Redmond quoted Ravens legend Ray Lewis, who is always well informed by the Ravens front office. “We were talking about giving this kid [Kaepernick] an opportunity to get back into the NFL… I have been fighting for this kid behind the table like nobody has. I’ve never been against Colin,” Lewis then stated. “Then his girlfriend goes and puts out this racist gesture and doesn’t know we are in the back office about to get him signed.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend, radio host Nessa Diab, compared Steve Biscotti to a pre-civil war slave owner. She did this by tweeting a photo of Lewis hugging Biscotti after their Super Bowl XLVII win, next to a photo of Samuel L. Jackson hugging Leonardo DiCaprio during a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 Movie, Django Unchained. In the movie, Jackson plays a slave and DiCaprio, a slave owner. The photo suggested that she thinks Biscotti is a modern-day slave owner and that black players like Lewis are aware of this but are too loyal to say otherwise. I don’t know about you, but if I were in the recruitment process of a job and a candidate’s significant other decided to call me a slave owner to several thousand people, I would not want to hire them barring a public apology from the candidate. Lewis blamed this tweet on the derailing of his signing. Kaepernick is yet to apologize to Steve Biscotti and the Ravens on his girlfriend’s behalf. He can-not be held accountable for his girlfriend’s actions, but the fact that he did nothing to suggest that he disagreed, such as tell Biscotti or Lewis that he thought her actions were wrong and did not agree with them suggests that he had no problem with her message.

According to Lewis, the day before these events transpired, Biscotti said, “I want to hear Colin speak and tell me that he wants to play football again [before they sign him].” That never happened because coincidently his girlfriend tweeted the picture the day after. It is strange that this happened the day before. It’s almost as if he had something to do with the tweet. It is possible that Kaepernick told Diab to tweet the picture. It is also possible he told her negative things about Biscotti and the Ravens’ organization which inspired her tweet.

The 2019 trial

If Kaepernick cared so much about playing again, why didn’t he play in the XFL, the AAF, or the CFL? Surely if he wanted to play, he’d play in another league not affiliated with the organization that allegedly blackballed him. Had he done so and dominated he would have a legitimate case that he belonged in the NFL. The team that signed him would have to deal with the unwanted attention that comes with signing him, since in this fictional scenario, he proved to be worth the aggravation.

The only clear evidence that he wanted to be given another opportunity to play in the NFL was host a workout in the Fall of 2019. According to Charean Williams of pro football talk for NBC sports “25/32 NFL teams were present for the workout.” However, he decided not to show up. He changed the location of the workout from the Atlanta Falcons training complex to a small high school at the last minute. Williams noted that the NFL released a statement saying they were, “Disappointed that Kaepernick did not appear for his workout.”  The reason for which has not been made clear because the NFL seemed to cater to every request that his agent made. According to Williams, the NFL’s statement included, “The NFL made considerable effort to work cooperatively with Colin’s representatives. We invited his agent to suggest questions for the interview. Yesterday, when Colin’s representatives said he wanted to bring his own receivers to the workout, we agreed to the request. In addition, Coach Hue Jackson discussed with Colin’s agent what drills would be run at the workout so that Colin would know what would be expected of him.” Following the workout, to everybody’s surprise, no NFL team was interested in signing Kaepernick. I can’t think of a single reason as to why. Other than the fact that he wasted the time and money of 25 NFL scouts of course.

Concluding remarks

Thank you all for reading. I appreciate that a lot of you may disagree with me and that is okay. I hope you all have a better understanding of Colin Kaepernick, a man whose name has been mentioned a lot this year and will likely be mentioned for a long time to come.