As the person who snapped the infamous first picture of San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sitting during the National Anthem, I have had many conversations about the topic. Just being around the team as a beat writer has incited numerous debates about the nature of the protests and intense conversations regarding my opinion.
Most of the conversations start with statements from people that sound like this: “If he had just done it another way I would feel....” and my response is always the same. “If he had done it in a less controversial manner, would we still be taking about it?” Likely, the answer is no. If Kaepernick had chosen to protest during a time that wasn’t the most patriotic moment of the game day, I wouldn’t be writing this article in November and former NFL LB Bart Scott wouldn’t be talking about it on Inside the NFL.
Boomer Esiason started the segment with his opinion that professional athletes should should use their personal time to express their opinions about such matters, but once they don the uniform they should refrain from making those comments. Scott disagreed and had this to say:
They don’t own me and they don’t own my thoughts. I represent two demographics and I tell you what, if I was looking for something in the dark, I’m not going to strike a match, I’m going to take a spotlight and shine it. And what's the spotlight that these players have? They have NFL football field or the basketball arena to really shine shine a light on the issue of the day because, guess what, I'm sorry for making you uncomfortable, but when I leave the stadium, I’m seen as a threat as well.
I can remember going back to college to get my degree and I was looking for a Bank of America. The only Bank of America was in Anna. A.N.N.A., Jonesboro stands for Ain’t No N_____ Allowed. And they told me, the secretary tells me, here I am a professional NFL player, and she tells me that I’d better be back before dark. Don't get stuck out there at dark. I’m like, is this 1950? Like, what are you talking about? That's the world we live in.
So, I'm sorry if I'm making people uncomfortable by trying to shine a light on a issue. So, if I feel that way as a successful young man, imagine what an intercity kid feels like, that he doesn't have any rights. And you talk about, people always want to talk bad about Colin Kaepernick and the way he did it, but Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, we talked about that for two days.
What makes Collin Kaepernick's situation so unique is basically he's the backup quarterback, injured, where NFL players don't have the power, right? The coaches and the owners own it. It's easy for Lebron James and Dwayne Wade to come out. No matter what they say, no one's cutting those guys, right? They have the power. See, so when Colin Kaepernick came out, he did what was best for the group, not best for himself.
When you put that uniform that's when people will listen because they recognize.
We talked about [The ESPYs] for three days. We've been talking about Colin Kaepernick because he made people feel uncomfortable and people don’t like to feel uncomfortable. They like to live in their bubble and think that everything is all sunshine and roses, but there’s a group of people in this world that’s struggling.
What the NBA stars did is commendable and I am not trying to downplay their efforts in the least, but because of the nature of Kaepernick’s protest, the fever over his actions is still running hot.