Luke McCown, David Olsen, Dan Orlovsky, Josh Woodrum. These four are all NFL quarterbacks, and they’re players that NFL ownership and general managers thought to be more enticing signings than Colin Kaepernick. Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last year, it’s well-known why Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned by any NFL team. When one elects their first amendment right to not stand for the National Anthem, it’s going to garner backlash, especially when that person is a multimillion-dollar athlete.
But in the league’s shunning of Kaepernick, the NFL as a whole has proven themselves to be wholly American in nature, for better or worse.
From Muhammad Ali losing five years of his prime for refusing induction into the US Army in 1966 to the backlash that Dr John Carlos and Tommie Smith faced for raised fists during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, an athlete runs the risk of being shunned if they speak out. Banishing athletes from the sport they love in order to make a cautionary tale for other athletes is a practice that is American as tailgating.
A Google search of the terms “blackballed athletes” reveals Colin Kaepernick’s name mentioned often, but he was far from the first athlete left on the outside looking in on his profession due to his political beliefs. There’s the case of Craig Hodges, a two-time NBA champion, who tried to make an impact politically.
The three-time winner of the the NBA three-point shooting contest not only tried to convince Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson to boycott a 1991 NBA Finals game in response to the Rodney King beating, but also wrote a letter to then-President George H.W. Bush about the endangerment of the young African American Male.