Saturday, July 29, 2017

Persona non grata

NFL training camps are starting up again, which seems as good a time as any to check in with Colin Kaepernick, Official Non-Person of the National Football League.

In the latest news of He Who Shall Not Be Named (even though the Blob just Named him), Joe Flacco of the Ravens said, heck, yes, we'd welcome him, though not as a starter, of course, but as a backup with some considerable NFL experience. It's been noted Kaepernick might be a good fit there, because the Ravens are coached by John Harbaugh, brother of Jim, under whom Kaepernick flourished as a young QB who helped take the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately for Kaepernick, Flacco's duties with the Ravens do not include any paycheck signing. That belongs to the owners, and the owners of the Ravens seem just as hell-bent on keeping That Troublemaker out of the league as everyone else.

Which is why they instead just signed some guy from some indoor team no one's ever heard of.

And so Kaepernick's exile goes on and on, becoming more obvious with every passing day. No matter what increasingly laughable excuses some people invent to explain his banishment, it is in fact a banishment. The man's being punished for his political stances, and there's no longer any question about it that can be taken seriously.

He's being punished for taking the apparently extraordinary position that police officers shouldn't go around shooting people of color first and asking questions later. Why this makes him a dangerous radical in some people's eyes (including, clearly, everyone holding the deed to an NFL franchise) says far more about the nation we live in right now than it does about Kaepernick. And none of it's good.

Nor does it say anything good about the NFL that it's apparently so averse to social activism unless it's politically correct (i.e., visiting kids in the hospital, encouraging kids to read and get physical exercise, honoring the troops). Weightier issues like the one Kaepernick tried to call attention to it has no stomach for. Go kneel on someone else's sideline.

(Unless, of course, you're Tim Tebow, and you're kneeling because you're a religious guy. Then it's OK.)

Kaepernick kneeling in a similar attitude of prayerful silence, though, was considered blasphemy because he did it during the national anthem. That it was as tasteful, elegant and respectful as an expression of protest can be and still be an expression of protest didn't matter. It was still a protest, which apparently is not acceptable in these United States anymore -- unless, again, it's in support of a politically correct cause and is done in the "appropriate" time and place.

(The latter of which undermines the entire idea of an effective protest, and which the Blob has always found to be an interesting bit of denial. That's because the people who always say it are trying very hard not to say what they really think, which is that protests with which they don't agree should be banned. So they say it's not the "appropriate" time and place. What would be the appropriate time and place, of course, they never say.)

In any case, Kaepernick's political stances have made him persona non grata. Even though he's just 29. Even though his career touchdown-to-interception ratio is a more than decent 72-to-30. Even though he's run for more yards (2,300) in the last six seasons than any quarterback except for Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, and even though he completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and just four picks last year. Oh, and averaged 6.78 yards per rush.

Yet unless something happens in the next few days, he won't be in an NFL camp. A whole pile of  quarterbacks of lesser quality will be, but he won't. Likely someone, at some point, will suck it up and bring him in, because need eventually trumps everything in professional sports. But until then ...

Until then, in an NFL wholly subservient to corporate prerogatives, his title is as set in stone as it gets.

Non-Person. Official.

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