Even as Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem has spread to other players and teams, helping to legitimize it as a valid act of political conscience now that it’s divorced from its perception as one man’s personal crusade, some reactionaries still can’t seem to let go of their own personal views on the subject. Trent Dilfer is one of those people who told Kaep, in so many words, to shut up, and Colin had a predictably appropriate and thoughtful response.
Dilfer has gotten it from many sources for sounding like a disapproving white man patronizing a black man, but he’s taken to the radio to defend his comments as being not about race, but about football and Kaep’s status as a backup.
“That’s the one where it does appear as if I’m saying, ‘Hey you, you just go be quiet and what you’re standing for, you can’t do this.’ That’s not what I was saying,” Dilfer said. “I guess where I was coming from was a complete football context. My nine years as an analyst, I’m on record multiple times about being passionate about team dynamics.”
To back up his point, Dilfer recalled a point in his career when he was made aware of the (very serious) issue of modern slavery, and considered protesting it.
“It became a passion of ours to help fight this battle of childhood slavery around the country and I had a very big platform in Seattle and I could have leveraged being a Seattle Seahawk, being a NFL quarterback, done a lot to get that message out there, but I chose not to at the sake of not wanting to disrupt the team and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, and I didn’t want to take it away from Matt, the rest of our team and our preparation to win.”
Dilfer also stated, “I’m not going to back down from my comments,” officially sealing this interaction in the record as Dilfer being incredibly wrongheaded. It’s okay to do what Dilfer claims he did during his playing career, which is to care deeply about an issue but not bring it into his workplace, but he has no right to say that his way is the only way to go about giving voice to an issue.
Even that doesn’t cover how badly Dilfer misses the point, however. Child slavery, as serious as it is, is not a divisive issue nor one that speaks to the very structure of our country like the systemic racism that Kaepernick is protesting. Unless we’re missing something, Dilfer was never a victim of or personally exposed to childhood slavery — he came at it like so many privileged philanthropists. “Oh my god, have you heard about this serious issue of [personal cause for which I attended a recent fundraiser]? We should do something!”
Black Americans live through the problems Kaepernick brought up, every day, in plain view. It’s something Colin has seen and experienced with his own eyes through himself, family and friends. The stakes are much higher for him than they ever were for Dilfer, a white male. Kaepernick has said time and time again that he felt as if he had to say or do something, consequences be damned. That tells you all you need to know about the strength of his character, in contrast to Trent “I care about this, but not as much as I care about the Seattle Seahawks” Dilfer.