NFL won’t allow Kaepernick sideshow

John Sitkiewicz

Controversy surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the playing of America’s national anthem prior to kick-off is showing no signs of subsiding anytime soon.

In terms of picking a forum to launch a political grievance involving the American flag, Kaepernick couldn’t have chosen a worse venue than the National Football League.

For all of the NFL’s perceived faults in recent years—from widespread criticism that it didn’t take domestic violence incidents seriously to being incredulous regarding player concussions—one thing the league will never be accused of being is unpatriotic.

On any given Sunday, inside of any NFL stadium in the country, the league’s franchises go out of their way to honor America’s military.

Both active service members and veterans are brought onto the field to take part in pre-game festivities full of flag-inspired pageantry prior to the first note of the anthem being played.

Flyovers of Air Force and Navy fighter jets nearing the anthem’s end are all but customary for games played outdoors.

Once play actually starts, veterans—often times war-injured—of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are brought onto the field and introduced during breaks in the action where they’re greeted with standing ovations from sold-out crowds.

Given all that, does anyone really think the NFL or the 49ers—one of the league’s most celebrated teams—want to have even the slightest association with a provocative act that many feel is anti-American at its core?

Do either have anything at all to gain from employing a player, arguably well into the downside of his career, who has tends to provide sports beat reporters with detailed political commentary during post-game interviews?

Above everything else, NFL franchises are in the business of making money and trying to win football games.

Those that disrupt or distract from that standard playbook most usually learn that what the NFL really means at the end of the day is “not for long.”

So then, what exactly becomes of Kaepernick?

More sooner than later, the 49ers will decide whether a once Super Bowl caliber quarterback, one that lost the starting job last season, is worth the constant PR headache that his newfound political stance will inevitably stay in the national news.

Interestingly, conveniently placed stories on the web and in print that Kaepernick’s “not the same player” he once was might very well already be foreshadowing his fate.

Kaepernick’s certainly free to ascribe to whatever political views he so chooses. He’s welcome to take part in any revolutionary movement that pleases him.

Unfortunately for him, there’s no constitutional right to play in the NFL.

And don’t doubt for a second that there’s any type of appetite in the league for anything considered by many to be un-American in any way.

John Sitkiewicz is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.