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Kaepernick situation could help players realize their power

Comic-Con International 2016 - General Atmosphere And Cosplay

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: Super Man cosplayer attends Comic-Con International on July 22, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Matt Cowan/Getty Images)

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It remains to be seen whether 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand for the national anthem continues to spread. Regardless of whether other players choose to support Kaepernick and his cause by not standing, all players should be considering the broader impact of Kaepernick’s gesture.

A faded NFL star who would have been traded to Denver if his $11.9 million salary wasn’t fully guaranteed, Kaepernick has become as well known as he was during the height of his playing career (if not even better known), simply by doing something few football players ever do.

The real question is whether, moving forward, Kaepernick’s case will be an aberration -- or whether it will be the moment Superman first realized he can fly.

This isn’t about standing, sitting, or kneeling for the anthem. This is about understanding that players have real power, even if a Lex Luthor league never wants them to figure it out it.

So how can that power be used in ways other than not standing for the anthem? The NFL won’t tolerate blatant deviations to the uniform (although the league has yet to comment on Tom Brady’s removal of the NFL logo from his helmet in the preseason). Also, the range of on-field demonstrations is limited to celebratory acts, but with some creativity messages could be sent on a stage that extends from the moment of a big play to the highlights seen by millions across various forms of media.

Beyond the confines of a game, players have real options for making statements. What if all players skipped a voluntary OTA day in order to protest the league’s approach to player discipline? What if all players skipped all voluntary aspects of the offseason program?

It sounds extreme on the surface, but with the league constantly taking full advantage of its powers under the labor deal, why shouldn’t the players do the same thing? They have the legal right to not show up for all voluntary offseason workouts. If they all did that, the gesture would definitely get the attention of the teams and the league -- and the NFL would have no choice but to ask for the offseason program to become mandatory, and to make real concessions in order to get there.

There are ways to use the platform without confrontation. What if the players decided to pick one weekday during the season when, during required media availability, they will answer questions not about football but only about social issues important to them?

There are surely other ways players can use power that had been largely if not completely untapped before Kaepernick opted to sit for the anthem. The point is that Kaepernick has proven that Superman can fly. It’s now up to all players to decide whether they want to fly, too. And then where they want to go.