The NFL’s owners and players are in the midst of discussions about how to handle protests during the national anthem moving forward. But one prominent voice in the entire story believes talks are pointless without focusing on one key aspect: why Colin Kaepernick, who began the entire protest movement, remains unemployed.
“I think the first step to even being able to even have a conversation is making sure that Colin Kaepernick gets an opportunity to play in the NFL,” said the Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, per ESPN. “I think before we even negotiate anything about whether we sit, whether we stand, it should be a negotiation about opening up the doors for Colin Kaepernick and giving him an opportunity again, because I feel like through everything, that’s been lost. All of us are having an opportunity to be able to speak to our employers, but to think about the guy who started everything not to be able to have a voice at this moment, it just doesn’t seem very right to me.”
Players have contended that Kaepernick is at least as talented as the backups on NFL rosters. But there’s an argument to be made that Kaepernick, as a quarterback, isn’t worth the blowback his signing would draw from fans and anti-protest critics. The problem at hand is that teams aren’t conceding that point publicly, hiding behind either a dismissal of Kaepernick’s football skills or simple silence. That’s why Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing the league’s owners of collusion.
Bennett also took issue with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ decree that players who sit for the anthem wouldn’t play, and Bennett invoked some provocative imagery to get his point across.
“It reminded me of the Dred Scott case: You’re property, so you don’t have the ability to be a person first,” he said, referencing an 1857 Supreme Court decision involving a slave. “I think that in this generation, I think that sends the wrong message to young kids and young people all across the world that your employer doesn’t see you as a human being, they see you as a piece of property, and if that’s the case, then I don’t get it. I just don’t get why you don’t see us as human beings first.”
Bennett’s Seahawks are in New York this weekend to play the Giants. Yes, there are still football games happening.
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.