NFL Makes it Clear, Freedom of Speech (Colin Kaepernick) isn’t Welcome Here

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Charlotte, NC - September 18, 2016: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks off the field at Bank of America Stadium with his fist up in the air after their game against the Panthers.(Gerry Melendez for ESPN)

At this point, everybody knows why Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job in the NFL. It’s not a question of his talent or if he poses as a possible distraction in the locker room — those are just excuses or cheap cop-outs.

The fact is, Colin Kaepernick is still talented enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, let alone a backup. If 34-year-old-turnover-machine Jay Cutler can come out of retirement and get a job, Kaepernick deserves to play.

Seriously, though, why are NFL owners willing to lose football games over this? They have no problem working with players who are accused of sexual assault or other violent crimes but when it comes to a player making a silent protest about an issue that actually plagues our country, then that’s crossing the line?

I was talking to a friend over the weekend and they described it to me like this.

“At the end of the day is the juice worth the squeeze? Right now owners don’t seem to think so.”

But why don’t they think so? When you’re picking teams on the middle-school blacktop you pick the best players because you want to win. And you would think these NFL owners would like to win — winning brings in more money and I’m sure they like money.

Of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, Kaepernick is easily better than 10 of them.

Here’s a list of all the 2017 starting QB’s that Colin Kaepernick is better than:
1. Jay Cutler
2. All of the New York Jets QB’s
3. Tyrod Taylor
4. All of the Cleveland Browns QB’s
5. Blake Bortles
6. Tom Savage
7. Trevor Siemian
8. Mike Glennon
9. Brian Hoyer
10. Jared Goff

Those are just the ones I’m sure of but there are plenty of others that are debatable. Like Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith, who Kaepernick already beat out when they were teammates on the 49ers. According to ESPN stats, the unemployed quarterback posted a rating of 90.7 last season while Smith had a slightly higher rating of 91.2. Either way, Kaepernick is better than a lot of starting quarterbacks.

Unfortunately, the NFL has made their mind up. They have made it clear that they don’t want their players to stand up for what they believe in. They would rather you stay quiet while they profit off of you as you bang your head around play after play.

Other leagues, like the NBA, would not treat their players like this. According to Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, if a similar situation arose in the NBA, Kaepernick wouldn’t be facing this kind of treatment.

“I don’t know what his status is in the NFL, but I’m glad the NBA doesn’t have a politician litmus test for our players,” said Cuban. “I’d like to think we encourage our players to exercise their constitutional rights.”

Thankfully the NBA does allow their players to take a stand for what they believe in. At the 2016 ESPY’s, four of the NBA’s most prominent players; LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul took the stage to promote social change.

“Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for,” said Paul. “So we choose to follow in their footsteps.”

Kaepernick chose to follow their footsteps as well, but for some reason, he is being punished for it. In my opinion, Colin should be able to take legal action against the NFL. He should not be jobless for simply exercising his First Amendment right.

Unfortunately, the Constitution only protects speech when the government is trying to curtail it. Local, State, and Federal governments can make laws regarding when and where speech may take place but may not make laws regarding what kind of speech is allowed (with specific and few exceptions). The founding fathers wanted to ensure that citizens always had the opportunity to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Additionally, the First Amendment does not require private citizens to associate with those who choose to exercise their right to speak. That means you can be fired, or sued if your speech violates professional conduct standards or private contracts. The National Review discussed it at length here.

I know a lot of people want to argue different reasons for Kaepernick not having a job, but let’s get real. NFL owners would rather lose games than sign Kaepernick.

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