Thank goodness for Colin Kaepernick. Without the one-time quarterback and full-time jerk out filing laughable collusion suits and steadfastly maintaining that he is entitled to play in the NFL, sports hacks like USA Today’s Jarrett Bell might have to write about sports.
It seems the NFL may address the anthem kneeling controversy at an upcoming meeting, and may even find the intestinal fortitude to actually adopt a policy. (Fecklessness is Commissioner Roger Goodell’s go-to posture, but it ain’t a policy.)
Bell thinks that’s a bad idea. It may be, but not for the reasons Bell offers. An “anti-kneeling policy would seem rather hollow with Colin Kaepernick and his former San Francisco 49ers teammate, safety Eric Reid, out of work as they pursue collusion cases against the NFL.”
Hollow? Yes. Bell says that team owners exercising the right to hire whomever they choose “is about as un-American as it gets.” (These are the same team owners who allowed a coalition of social just warrior players to shake them down for $89 million for various causes.)
See, there’s a reason Bell is (ostensibly) on the jock beat and not covering the Supreme Court. His grasp of legal and constitutional issues is as thumbless as his understanding of patriotism.
Unquestionably, Kaepernick is constitutionally entitled to be an ass -- and he’s exercised that right with abandon (the Cop-Pig socks, the Castro fanboy tees, not to mention some of his statements). He is not entitled to be an ass in an NFL uniform. But to Bell says, “to spit in the face of American values the flag is supposed to represent by refusing to hire someone who might kneel during the anthem is such a slippery slope for a league that has employed players (and others) convicted or accused of all sorts of transgressions.”
Yes, there are a lot of thugs in the NFL. It’s a shame. But thugs and jerks don’t usually promise to cause problems as they sign their contracts. And the problems they do cause aren’t calculated to alienate the fan base. Ah, but Bell anticipates me.
Bad for business? That’s a rationalization you’ll hear from some supporters of an anthem policy. Yet the same people who grumble that players are using the NFL stage to protest have no issue wrapping that same stage in patriotism — with symbols that mean different things to different people in this culturally diverse society.
Um, of course they don’t have an issue. They’re patriotic. Love of country is above politics and above issues and differences we have. Patriotism is for many Americans (most, one hopes) deeply emotional. Kaepernick knew that. It’s why he chose the form of protest he did.
And if those symbols -- the flag, flyovers, patriotic songs -- “mean different things to different people in this culturally diverse society,” they’re failing. Bell ends his piece thus:
No, now is not the time for an iron-clad policy forcing players to stand for the anthem. It’s the time to acknowledge some truths, like we’re all part of the American melting pot.
For the melting pot to work, all the ingredients have to want to melt. If we can’t even agree on a minute of respect for the flag before a public event, we’re left with a lumpy stew that nobody likes.