As the issue of racial injustice has once again spread like wildfire across this nation, the infamous Colin Kaepernick and his short-lived NFL career has been allowed to take up space in the limelight once more. But, surprisingly, this time, it’s because someone else just actually stood up for him.
I know it’s a rarity to be sure. But that is exactly what just happened last week when retired Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre spoke about the liberal hothead in a virtual interview with TMZ.
Favre was reportedly asked about comparisons between Kaepernick and some of the world of sport’s best, such as Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali, who, like Kaepernick, have at some point come to represent something besides just their game. And Favre, whether slightly addled by the many hits he has taken over the years or just not much on his history, chose to compare Kaepernick to the late and great Pat Tillman.
He said, “I can only think of, right off the top of my head, Pat Tillman is another guy that did something similar. And we regard him as a hero. So I’d assume that hero status will be stamped with Kaepernick as well.”
Favre went on to explain that “It’s not easy for a guy his age – black or white, Hispanic, whatever – to stop something that you’ve always dreamed of doing, and put it on hold, maybe forever, for something that you believe in.”
Now, part of me certainly agrees with this.
Favre is correct in saying that like Tillman, Kaepernick’s name and image have, in recent years, become a symbol for something more than just himself or even his sport. And I’m sure in both the case of Tillman and Kaepernick, the ending of their football careers was and is still a tough pill to swallow.
However, that is where the similarities end.
Kaepernick, as you may well remember, was a successful professional football player with the NFL who played quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers up until 2016 when he began to kneel during the national anthem. For him, it was a form of protest, thought to bring national awareness to the lack of equality “brown and black” bodies such as himself experience daily.
However, his evident dislike for our flag and the national anthem was just the beginning. Soon he was wearing socks that depicted cops as literal pigs, insinuating that police get away with murder, compared them to slave catchers, and even promoting the ideals of Fidel Castro. He essentially turned himself, his apparel, and his every game into a publicity stunt for his cause.
Thus, it was no surprise that his actions and words soon turned his teammates and the NFL as a whole against him. When his contract with the California based team ended, he chose to continue his football career as a free agent. But not a single NFL team picked him up, as he so confidently suspected.
Naturally, he blamed the NFL, claiming they had conspired with team owners to keep him from playing. And of course, his race was mentioned.
As it turns out, no one wanted to work with a guy who was all about himself. After all, that kind of attitude doesn’t exactly inspire healthy team morale. And it’s certainly not a quality owners and coaches are going to look for in a team leader.
Pat Tillman, on the other hand, was quite different. Tillman, like Kaepernick, was noted to be a rather talented football player. However, unlike Kaepernick, his football career ended out of choice. In 2002, eight months after the September 11 attacks on our nation, Tillman enlisted in the US Army, wanting to do more for his country than simply play football.
In doing so, he turned down a $3.6 million contract from the Arizona Cardinals.
He was nearly immediately deployed to Afghanistan as an Army Ranger, where he bravely served our nation and its freedoms for two short years. No doubt, he would have served longer had his unit not been ambushed by “friendlies” in-country on April 22, 2004. He was killed in action, dying a hero.
Tillman died serving and protecting the same flag that Kaepernick protested against and continues to trample on.
There is no similarity there. Tillman gave up everything, by choice, to give back to his country.
Kaepernick, on the other hand, didn’t willingly give up anything. Instead, he tried to prove the nation that gave him freedom and the First Amendment rights he so often uses to bash her as something of a tyrant.
Nothing about that says hero, not in the slightest.