Opinion: Kaepernick, the NFL and Collusion
Opinion: Kaepernick, the NFL and Collusion
Last night, I found myself listening to ESPN Radio. Don’t ask. I wasn’t where I could turn it off. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem. I’m a sports fan. However, last night was different. This particular on-air personality went on and on and on again about how the NFL owners colluded against Colin Kaepernick to punish him for his role in the National Anthem protest.
My first problem with the diatribe–and that is exactly what it happened to be–stemmed from the fact the commentator did not refer back to the arbiter’s ruling Kaepernick’s complaint could move forward to trial after the opening of the piece. Okay, maybe he did. The fact I can’t remember him doing so means he buried the reference so deep, it might as well not been there. instead of it being a report, or even a well-written editorial, about what happened, it became a condemnation of all things not Kaepernick.
That’s fine. That’s his right.
However, he fell into the same trap so many others have when it comes to this issue. Without considering whether there was collusion between the owners or not, those same owners are businessmen. They are no different from any other business owner or board of directors. They have certain responsibilities, including making sure their “brand” isn’t damaged by the acts of their employees.
Oh, there are arguments to be made that NFL players aren’t “employees” but are actually “contractors”. That doesn’t matter. They are representatives of the team and their actions can reflect positively or negatively upon that “brand”.
Back to the broadcast and Kaepernick. The commentator (and I do apologize, I wasn’t paying attention to which show or on-air personality it happened to be) alleged Kaepernick will never get back into the NFL. It was only after prompting from others in the booth with him that he admitted part of that might be because of his football ability. Yes, Kaepernick had a couple of good seasons, but he also had some bad ones. However, he went on to say that if Kaepernick had been a Tom Brady-level quarterback, he’d never have been let go, kneeling or not. What we have to understand, he went on to say, is that Kaepernick’s law suit alleging collusion is a thing of principal because Kaepernick doesn’t want anyone else to suffer the way he has.
I’m not too sure about that. However, that argument also falls flat when you look at the number of players who have been let go over the years because they are considered too divisive or disruptive or simply too selfish to be part of a team. (Yes, I’m looking at Dez Bryant, a talented but troubled–and troublesome–wide receiver.)
But here’s what so many forget when they try to paint Kaepernick into some social justice avenging angel without an agenda of his own.They look at what Kaepernick has suffered (at his own instigation) but never look at the impact bringing Kaepernick onto a team would have on that team, his new teammates and to the NFL.
No, all they see is that the mean old owners aren’t letting Kaepernick and those following his example exercise their right to free speech by taking a knee.
Pardon me but bullshit.
Almost every employer around has rules of behavior for their employees. It is a big no-no to do anything that will harm the company “brand”. If an employee does so, the employer has the ability and, if I may, the right, to take appropriate action to discipline the employee for the negative behavior. In other words, if an employee for McDonald’s stood in the middle of their shop and started telling folks not to buy the Big Mac because Whataburger made a better burger, his supervisor would have every right to fire him. Why? Because he was casting shade on the brand.
In Kaepernick’s situation, his actions brought about a backlash from the fans. Ticket sales and/or attendance declined. That decline meant lower sales at the stadium during the games. But the impact was even more wide-reaching. TV viewership of games declined as well. That meant lower revenue for the nFL and for the team owners. That lower income means eventually lower pay for the team. Oh, the players themselves might not feel it right away but others in the organization will, not that Kaepernick or his supporters seem to care about that.
Was there collusion between the owners after Kaepernick’s contract wasn’t renewed? I don’t know. If there was, the courts will deal with it.
But this idea that Kaepernick is some sort of hero of free speech? No. He’s not. He’s a spoiled brat having a shit fit because he can’t act up on national TV any longer. As for those who say the NFL shouldn’t try to “silence” the players, grow up. Ask yourselves, especially those of you in managerial or ownership roles, if you want your employees behaving in a way that your bottom lime is impacted negatively. That is what you are advocating by saying Kaepernick and ever other player using the game to advance this cause is doing.
There are repercussions to our actions. Kaepernick is facing his. He made a choice. Let him live with it–if you aren’t willing to do so, then you’d better consider the consequences, to you, your families, your employees and your customers. Why? Because it might just reach out to bite you in the ass when your employees decide to act in a manner contrary to the best interest of your company, whether you are an owner, manager or another employee.