While the players who continue to refuse to stand to honor the national anthem might be striking the same pose as the now-jobless founder of the movement, some of them are taking a knee for reasons Colin Kaepernick never intended. The former 49ers quarterback-turned-plaintiff spelled out very clearly in the beginning why he refused to stand, declaring, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." But now some of his followers say they're kneeling for other things, including the "gender pay gap."
According to CNN contributor and former NFL player Donté Stallworth, kneeling players have told him that they are protesting far more than just what Kaepernick et al claim is "systemic racism" in law enforcement. Their protests, the players told Stallworth, now include "housing discrimination" and the "gender pay gap."
"The No. 1 stated goal was to bring awareness to a lot of these issues and again, it's a broad spectrum of issues. Again, it’s not just police brutality and community policing," Stallworth told CNN's Ana Cabrera on Saturday, ˆThe Hill reports. "It's also — again from what I’m hearing from players directly involved in these talks — they’re telling me it’s also about the gender pay gap, it’s also about housing discrimination, they have so many things that they are interested in and advocating for and they want the NFL to take ownership in and help be able to use the NFL’s platform."
As Ed Morissey points out, the idea of the NFL becoming a major voice for the largely mythic gender pay gap is a bit ironic. Citing a recent report by NBC News on why the league's cheerleaders literally can't afford to risk taking a knee, he notes that while cheerleaders are paid a whopping $100 a week from the $13 billion industry, "players on the practice squad get $7,200 a week" while the minimum for active roster players "is over $27,000 per week."
Are players and cheerleaders of equal worth to the game? Of course not, but $100 a week? . . . Maybe the players union will advocate for spreading some of that wealth around.
The Hill notes that all the hubbub over the anthem kneeling has died off a bit over the last week, with fewer players choosing to disrespect the country on Sunday, as evidenced by about half as many of the 49ers — the team that Kaepernick was the backup quarterback for when he started the ratings-damaging movement last season — kneeling this week compared to last (images below). While Goodell and the owners clearly want to see the kneeling end, the prominence of the issue is at least receding somewhat, for now.
As the league's ratings continue to slide, down an alarming 18% from 2015, the latest news from insiders is that the NFL is planning to once again huddle with the players union to figure out how to shift the activism from the field to the communities. According to Sports Illustrated, many players are calling on the league "to partner with them to work on inner-city problems, particularly in civil rights and relations with police." One likely "compromise" is the league giving players "a week or two this year for their social-justice causes to get the league spotlight — to be part of an ad campaign or social-media campaign."
H/T Ed Morissey