Some pundits want the Minnesota Vikings to sign former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in order to “send a strong message.”
Kaepernick was blacklisted by NFL owners after his season-long protest of police brutality in 2017, in which he knelt during the National Anthem prior to each game.
Joe Lockhart, who served as President Bill Clinton’s press secretary, was the spokesperson for the league during the tumultuous 2017 season.
“Kaepernick was not blocked because the league wanted to punish him for setting off the protests. In fact, just the opposite is true. The commissioner and several other league executives spent a lot of effort prodding and pushing owners to sign him,” Lockhart said in a recent column for CNN.
“But for many owners it always came back to the same thing. Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business. An executive from one team that considered signing Kaepernick told me the team projected losing 20% of their season ticket holders if they did. That was a business risk no team was willing to take, whether the owner was a Trump supporter or a bleeding-heart liberal (yes, those do exist). As bad of an image problem it presented for the league and the game, no owner was willing to put the business at risk over this issue,” he continued.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is locked in with the Vikings for at least another three years, but Lockhart thinks the team’s owners should take the “important step” of signing Kaepernick in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
“The situation in Minnesota right now offers a unique opportunity to deal with the symbols of racial injustice. As a small, but important step, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, Zygi and Mark Wilf, can send a strong message by offering Colin Kaepernick a contract to play with the Vikings. Bring him into camp, treat him like any of the other players given a chance to play the game they love,” said Lockhart.
Signing Kaepernick won’t “solve the problem of blacks and police violence,” but it will “recognize the problem that Kaepernick powerfully raised,” Lockhart concluded.
Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan argued that signing Kaepernick would not only “signal that the Vikings care about social justice,” but would “also make football sense.”
“The best aspect of signing Kaepernick would be that he could become a familiar presence in Minnesota and in national media,” said Souhan. “In Minnesota, Kaepernick could become a powerful and familiar force for good. He might win a few football games, too.”
Kaepernick issued a statement Thursday morning regarding Floyd’s death after two nights of rioting in Minneapolis.
“When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction. The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance,” he said. “We have the right to fight back. Rest in power George Floyd.”
When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction.
The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance.
We have the right to fight back!
Rest in Power George Floyd
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) May 28, 2020
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