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Necessary Roughness: Where was the NFL’s support when Kaepernick took a knee?

The league made a statement regarding the events taking place in our country. But are they too late?

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd tragically died after a white police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck. Floyd’s death was just the latest in a long line of police brutality related deaths, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Since his death, protests have occurred in more than 100 cities speaking out against police brutality and racial injustice. The NFL released a statement about the death of George Floyd, as well as the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

The reigning Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes, also released a statement.

So, it would appear that the NFL and Patrick Mahomes are on the same page when it comes to the importance of speaking out against these unacceptable deaths.

So where was this support in 2016?

Throughout the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in protest to police brutality and racial injustice. He became a free agent following the 2016 season and went unsigned in a year where Mike Glennon, E.J. Manuel, and Tyrod Taylor all received contracts. In fact, Taylor signed a 5-year, $90 million deal with Buffalo. This led to a grievance being filed by Kaepernick, accusing the league of collusion to keep him out of the NFL.

During that offseason, after the Baltimore Raven’s had considered signing Kaepernick to be Joe Flacco’s backup, Raven’s owner Steve Bisciotti admitted adding Kaepernick to the roster would “upset some people.”

He was probably right and sure, based on his play in 2012, you could make the argument that he shouldn’t expect to be a starter. There was also a report that Kaepernick wanted somewhere in the range of $9 million to $10 million per year to play again. However, Mike Glennon signed a three-year, $45 million contract after the 2016 season. Glennon threw 10 passes in 2016 and went on to make $15 million in 2017. Kaepernick started in six playoff games, including a Super Bowl. You would think he would’ve gotten some kind of offer even if it wasn’t to be a starter.

Now, what if Patrick Mahomes takes a knee during the national anthem in week one of the 2020 season? Will it upset some people? Probably. Will he be blackballed by the league or refused a new contract by the Chiefs? No, absolutely not. But why is it different? Is the league all of a sudden seeing the error of their ways when it comes to not supporting the protests, or is it because Patrick Mahomes is the face of the league and he isn’t expendable? Kaepernick, who went 1-10 in 2016, can be labeled as “not good enough”, even if it wasn’t true. The league wouldn’t be able to do that to Mahomes.

The Chiefs organization released a statement as well.

They state that “We all have an opportunity and a responsibility to advocate for change”. However, wasn’t Marcus Peters advocating for change with his protests? Now, no one within the Chiefs organization has ever come out and said that his protests were the reason he was traded out of Kansas City. However, Peters stated on The Logan Murdock Podcast that his relationship in Kansas City began to change once he protested.

It should be noted that there has been no word on whether Mahomes or any NFL player will kneel during the anthem this season. Last season, only Eric Reid, Kenny Stills, and former Chief, Albert Wilson continued to kneel during the anthem. Although, with the recent tragedies that have taken place, it is obvious many of the nation’s population are outraged and that includes many professional athletes. I would not be surprised to see more protests across the league and throughout the sports world.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Aubrey.

The Necessary Roughness column is an opinion piece and in no way reflects the opinions of Arrowhead Live or its staff.

Shawn Dixon

Shawn Dixon is a contributing writer at Arrowhead Live. He is married to his wife, Layna and is the father of four kids. He lives in NW Arkansas and is currently a Software Developer at Walmart. His spare time is filled with attending all the various sporting events that his kids are involved in. But his Sundays belong to the Chiefs, which he's been a fan of his entire life. So much so, that his youngest son is named Derrick Thomas.

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