49ers

Maybe our wanting him to play isn’t the best thing for Colin Kaepernick

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AP

Maybe our wanting him to play isn’t the best thing for Colin Kaepernick

The National Football League’s 32 overlords have been made increasingly uncomfortable by the pressures between its now dual purpose – putting on demonstrations of entertainment and being a prop for patriotic symbolism. It is a dance that rich men in their upper 60s and beyond aren’t really very well equipped to do.

But that’s what happens when you try to be all things to all people – at least all people who have the money to afford it. Eventually you find yourselves staring back at yourselves and wondering what the hell you’ve done to yourselves.

Put another way, this has gotten a lot bigger than Colin Kaepernick not having a quarterbacking gig. In fact, it has probably made the minimal notion that some owner would consider doing so that much more remote. Putting aside the rightness or wrongness of signing him, no owner in these profoundly uncertain times for the business is going to take on a new “burden.”

And there’s a part of me that wonders whether that is actually a bad thing in the end.

Not because he shouldn’t have the opportunity. If football is a meritocracy, and nobody can explain why he isn’t one of the 64 best quarterbacks in the nation, he should have a place somewhere. If he wants to play, and there is no evidence that he doesn’t, and the need for his talents is there, and it seems to be, any owner whose team needs a quarterback and chooses to avoid Kaepernick because of his uppity knee is committing a political act.

But we also know that football is essentially a dangerous pastime for people with heads and brains, and there is something slightly off-putting about us wanting that level of long-term danger for someone else. As we learn more about the cost of playing the sport, maybe our wanting him to play isn’t the best thing for him.

In other words, Colin Kaepernick should be someone’s quarterback by virtue of the level of talent at the position. He should chase his football desire without having to abandon his conscience.

But the essential lunacy of him having no quarterbacking job is, at least for me, balanced by the knowledge that football is in large part not good for a human head. And I kind of like where his head is at these days.

So if he never plays again, I will shake my head at the absurdity and rigidity of the people who run the sport, and revel in their ongoing discomfort because they conflated economics and politics and paid the price for that misjudgment.

And I will feel okay with him never playing again, just because if I have to choose between brain health and my Sunday amusement, I'll take option A.

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

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USATSI

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

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AP

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is again criticizing the NFL over players kneeling during the national anthem.

Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that the “NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem.”

He adds: “Total disrespect for our great country!”

Trump appeared to be responding to the NFL annual fall meeting on Tuesday. The league invited players and representatives from their union to discuss social issues.

The topic of the national anthem was not discussed at length. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners did not ask players to commit to standing during the anthem.

Trump has suggested the owners should “fire” any players who knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”