Robert Jackson is already anticipating what he calls “withdrawal symptoms” as he makes plans to sit out the NFL season in protest of what many see as the league owners kowtowing to critics of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem. Kaepernick, who is only 25-years-old, remains unsigned as the season starts despite his ranking among quarterbacks and leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl four years ago.
“I have to admit it will be difficult in the beginning because Sundays and pro football is a tradition that stems back over more than 40 years personally,” explains Jackson. “But, a boycott is definitely necessary because human lives are at stake. Police brutality and unjust behavior have reached epic proportions in the Black and Brown communities.”
A handful of columnists and civil rights advocates started the boycott discussion during the early days of summer. As the long days of the season give way to the cool snap of fall, the conversation is gaining momentum, sustained by the participation of other NFL players who have decided to sit or kneel during the anthem as a protest against racism. With teams already playing exhibition games, fans are taking note of the calls to boycott.
Spreading the Word
A video featuring a group of Black men, including members of the clergy, wearing their favorite NFL team’s jersey while calling for a “Black0ut” is making its way around the internet. In less than 48 hours, thousands of fans have shared the video, and the overwhelming majority supported the idea of a boycott as a sign of solidarity with Kaepernick. There were a few who condemned his actions, writing, “He made his choice and he assumed the risk.” Others indicated Kaepernick had not been signed because of “diminished skills” and not collusion among the owners motivated by fear of a backlash from white fans. But, Jackson agrees with the producers of the video, “An NFL boycott is the perfect setting for this to take place on the world’s largest stage. The illegal practice of collusion against Colin Kaepernick was the final straw.”
The National Museum of African American History Features Kaepernick
Despite the NFL’s ambiguity, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is adding items related to Kaepernick’s protest. A representative for the Museum describes the inclusion as an effort “to document the varied areas of society that have been impacted by the Black Lives Matter Movement.” The Museum’s sports curator referred to Kaepernick as “this generation’s Muhammad Ali.”
For Robert Jackson and many other NFL fans, Kaepernick deserves the association. As for his Sunday plans this season, Jackson says, “Hey, as my sister would say, ‘Time to start a new tradition’. I will be spending my Sundays interacting more with family and friends. I may also take up a suggestion mentioned by one of the boycott’s organizers…to use the potential time spent watching football towards mentoring young people.”