The 2017 NFL regular season launches on September 7th, but the league’s prevailing-narrative continues to occur far from the bright lights and the gridiron.
Today, a large group of Colin Kaepernick supporters gathered outside NFL headquarters in Manhattan. The mob ran about 1,000 deep, many wearing number seven jerseys as a show of solidarity. Their mandate: that the currently-jobless quarterback be signed before the start of the NFL season.
Kaepernick is arguably the game’s most-recognized face, transcending the sports world’s typical boundaries into the arenas of politics and civil rights. The NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell can only watch in chagrin as the story with seemingly-endless legs continues to play out.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the perception is that the free agent Kaepernick is being “black-balled” from NFL employment. Whether such a freeze exists, or not, it’s time to get him onto a roster – or, at least, a serious tryout.
A great line from Mission Impossible comes to mind: “I want him manning a radar tower in Alaska by the end of the day. Just mail him his clothes.”
I’d suggest the NFL follow a similar plan. Sometimes the best way to kill a story is to make it a non-issue. If Kaep were to be sent to exile somewhere – say Buffalo or Jacksonville – it would give the PC crowd one less grievance to air.
A few teams have kicked the tires on signing the embattled quarterback, only to run away pell-mell for fear of fan backlash. However, the longer this story is allowed to fester, that backlash will only increase. Anyone who thinks the league can bury it, ala Ray Rice, is immune to current events.
Racial tensions are charged to levels unseen since the 1960s, and it’s important the NFL avoid the notion – however farfetched – that the blackballing-fix is in. The firestorm they are inviting threatens to drown out their product.
Kaepernick’s career as an NFL starter is over. However, given the sorry also-rans teams are trotting out, these days, he’s probably good enough to be on someone’s roster. An owner needs to step up and take one for the team. If not, the league needs to create a position for him, give him a fancy title like “Ambassador of Race Relations” or something.
Honestly, I’m in support of anything that gets this story off the front pages, because frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it. And, I don’t think I’m alone.