Friday's ESPN First Take program started with a 25-minute donnybrook on the Seattle Seahawks rescinding an invitation to Colin Kaepernick for a tryout. Max Kellerman (in photo) called it a "punk move" and charged NFL owners with trying to make their player employees parrot their political speech by standing for the national anthem.
Some two weeks ago, the Seahawks agreed to give Kaepernick a tryout, the second year in a row they have flirted with signing him. As reported yesterday, when they learned that he would not promise to discontinue his anthem protest or his other controversial activism, they postponed that tryout.
"This a punk move by [team owner] Paul Allen and the Seattle Seahawks, the way they've handled this situation," Kellerman shouted ... "The reason this is a punk move by the NFL and now the Seahawks and Paul Allen is because essentially what they're saying is it is not voluntary (to stand for the anthem), it is mandatory. And if you're gonna say that, come out on the record and say it. I dare you, Paul Allen! I dare you, Roger Goodell! I dare you!"
Kellerman doubted that will happen "because it is one thing to say First Amendment rights don't extend to the work place. In other words you can't just say whatever you want in the work place. It is another thing to say you must parrot the boss's political speech and stand in front of the anthem is political speech whether you like it or not. And I do not believe the boss can make Kaepernick parrot his political speech."
Continuing his tirade, Kellerman stated the whole anthem issue was all about billionaire owners controlling the players. They were threatened by the upstart Kaepernick trying to change the way they do business. "They've put in a de facto and cowardly mandatory participation in the national anthem. It gives them a chance to do what they want to do without getting on the record for it."
Stephen A. Smith added that the owners are white billionaires who made an example of Kaepernick by blacklisting him. "I don't agree with their decision and certainly think Kaepernick is being screwed royally. I don't view them as punks. I view them as non-minorities who happen to be white billionaires who feel they had their business compromised. And like any other business, they are reminding you that they are gonna run this ship and you won't be able to do it."
Will Cain, the only conservative on the program, also discounted Kellerman's punk move angle and explained Kaepernick's position through a risk/reward analysis:
"On the risk side, you (Kaepernick) are probably gonna protest on the job and what am I getting for that? On the reward side, I get what? A backup quarterback or low-end starter. It's not worth it for me. It's been almost two years removed since he's actually played any high level football and we can't assume he's gotten better in that time. That makes it all the more odd than an owner would come to the conclusion that, yeah, now's the time for Kaepernick to come back.
"Add to that, by the way and again, Kaepernick is not behaving in many ways like someone who's trying to actually get a job in the NFL, suing them for collusion, wearing a Kunte Kinte shirt to a deposition. These are not the actions of someone who's really, really interested in getting a second chance, doing everything he can. It's about the collusion suit. That's it. One side is offering a job potentially to undercut a collusion suit, the NFL is going 'somebody's gotta give this guy a job. This suit's no good for us.'"
Cain concluded that, in the end, Kaepernick vs. the NFL is a chess game and he doesn't know whose moves are more disingenuous. But he claimed "if you're in a lawsuit you're losing the lawsuit," and Kaepernick "won the latest cycle."