Don Lemon: Is NFL’s Sacking of Kaepernick ‘Really the American Way?’

Don Lemon, on Monday’s CNN Tonight, actually wondered if the NFL’s virtual sacking of National Anthem-protesting and pig cop sock-wearing Colin Kaepernick was “really the American way?” 

In the show’s open Lemon teased a segment on the former San Francisco 49er quarterback still not being on an NFL roster: “A star quarterback who led his team to the Super Bowl, now nobody seems to want Colin Kaepernick on their team. Is it all because he refused to stand for the National Anthem? Do sports stars pay a price for speaking out about politics. And is that really the American way?” 

During the segment Lemon wondered if Kaepernick was “being blackballed?” and if there would be “a chilling effect with other players to keep them from speaking out.” 

Thankfully, former Minnesota Viking safety Jack Brewer was on hand to talk some sense. Brewer explained to Lemon “This is a business....Teams are getting prepared for the season and they don’t want any distractions. I don’t think it has anything to do with Colin Kaepernick kneeling, for example, but fans drive tickets, they drive revenue. You have to appeal to your fan base. I think right now it’s just a lot of risk for an organization to take.” 

Brewer later added: “You have to remember that we have kids watching us. And as athletes we use our platforms in the way that we do. We don’t have to be divisive, we don’t have to call police pigs. We don’t have to say we don’t like police officers.” 

 

 

The following are the relevant exchanges as they were aired on the August 7 edition of CNN Tonight With Don Lemon

DON LEMON: Plus, a star quarterback who led his team to the Super Bowl, now nobody seems to want Colin Kaepernick on their team. Is it all because he refused to stand for the National Anthem? Do sports stars pay a price for speaking out about politics. And is that really the American way?
...
LEMON: Colin Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to the super bowl in 2013. Now four years later, nobody seems to want him on their team. Is it because he refused to stand for the National Anthem? Is he paying a price for his protest now? Let's discuss, Josina Anderson ESPN NFL Insiders is here, former NFL players Jack Brewer and Donte Stallworth, good evening to all of you. This is a fascinating conversation. I’m so happy to have it all with you. Josina, gonna start with you. We all remember Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem. Still without a team weeks before the season starts. Is he out of a job because of his beliefs? 

JOSINA ANDERSON, ESPN NFL INSIDER: Well there are I think a variety of reasons that people can point to as to why Colin Kaepernick is currently unemployed in the National Football League. I mean you look at a man who has a passion for the NFL and to play for it and it’s probably feeling more to him like a business and less like a meritocracy. When you look at the fact that this is a league where it has a lot of player who are good citizens but Don has also given second chances to people who had been accused or charged with domestic violence with, sexual assault, murder, abuse against animals and here he is trying to do just a silent protest. A legal protest, make a social, political stance against what he said was the oppression of black people and people of color who were disproportionally targeted by police brutality, albeit during the National Anthem where people have taken offense to that. You know, his protests didn’t come out in the most smooth way. And there are a lot of people who took that in the wrong way, but he has since tried to clear that up. 

LEMON: Okay so I want to ask you then, is he being blackballed? Jack I want to ask you, because she brings up a good point. Ray Rice played for the Ravens at the time of his domestic violence incident that was back in 2014. He was welcomed back with a standing ovation at practice session after the incident, so what does this say about the culture of the NFL, about American culture that they can tolerate someone who you know, has dealt with domestic violence, but yet someone who stands up for their beliefs, they don’t tolerate that so much?

JACK BREWER, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I think we are judging a little bit too soon. Ray Rice actually his career ended, I don’t think he has played since. With Colin, this is a different situation. This is a business. This is training camp, right? Teams are getting prepared for the season and they don’t want any distractions. I don’t think it has anything to do with Colin Kaepernick kneeling, for example, but fans drive tickets, they drive revenue. You have to appeal to your fan base. I think right now it’s just a lot of risk for an organization to take. 


...
LEMON: Especially when people talk about the First Amendment and the freedom of expression so much, so much in this country. Dante, go ahead and weigh in. I know what Jack thinks. What do you think, Donte? 

DONTE STALLWORTH, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I think there’s a little bit of both, to be honest. I think these NFL organizations are doing exactly what any major corporation or any major entity would do. And that is acting in their best interest, doesn’t mean that Colin Kaepernick is not better than some starting quarterbacks that are currently on NFL rosters and especially the backups that are on rosters now as Josina just named some of the guys that were signed before him that can’t hold his jock for lack of a better term. 

LEMON: Do you think there will be a chilling effect with other players to keep them from speaking out, Donte? 

STALLWORTH: I think it’s, yeah I that is a natural kind of effect, unfortunately.
...
BREWER: At the end of the day, it’s about unity, it’s about bringing people together. You can have your perspectives on either side of the aisle. At the same time, you have to remember that we have kids watching us. And as athletes we use our platforms in the way that we do. We don’t have to be divisive, we don’t have to call police pigs. We don’t have to say we don’t like police officers. Black people, we have a lot of issues that we’re standing up against that go beyond and above police officers and above and beyond the athletic field. And We just have to come together at the end of the day.

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