Colin Kaepernick's NFL Unemployment: What Happens If Owners Prevail?

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Kaepernick. KPIX screenshot

Will “Kap” play in the National Football League (NFL) in 2017/18?  Are enough Black NFL fans angry enough over the Colin Kaepernick situation willing to boycott the NFL for that cause?  Public Enemy Chuck D thinks they need to be.

Think about it. You have owners and you have players. They have the choice and right to do whatever they want to do in their fields.”  Chuck thinks that “If people want change they fight the power with actions--It’s up to the fans”.

So, NFL fan, where do you stand on boycotting the NFL to support Colin Kaepernick?  The 2017 season, the 98th NFL season in the history of the NFL started without Kap on September 7, 2017. But, during what is expected to be another lucrative year for the league, what will Black NFL fans do about their issues and perspectives?  What impact can Blacks have on NFL bottom lines? While Black fans demand field employment for “Kap” at $9 to $10 million-a-year, the NFL owners are in their booths counting out $14 billion.

When he was San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Kaepernick sat down during The Star-Spangled Banner to "bring awareness" to a civil rights issues. If any story demonstrates the different perspectives African-Americans and Whites hold, it's the saga of Colin Kaepernick. The vitriol surrounding Kaepernick is heated, with pro-Kaepernick people screaming about him “being blackballed" and anti-Kaepernick people questioning his football ability.  Blacks think that the story is one of racism, bigotry and discrimination.

Over 100 quarterbacks have signed 2017 contracts with the 32 NFL teams, yet Kap continues to sit on the sidelines.  A coalition of Blacks say: "The NFL is a modern-day plantation with most players being Black and the owners being all-White".

While Blacks protest the NFL prospers as the world’s most lucrative sports league.  The average NFL team is worth $2.34 billion and has the highest TV ratings and national broadcasting revenue of any U.S. professional sports league.  CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN/ABC paid $5 billion for the rights to NFL games.  If Blacks stay away from stadiums - which in many instances their governments built – they won’t impact NFL bottom-lines a lot.  Local revenues --tickets, concessions-- are not considered to be a major contributor to the league’s money.  African-American males are only 6% of the United States population, but comprise nearly 70 percent of NFL players.  The NFL’s 83%  White fan base do not sympathize with Kap’s plight.

Tommie Smith, who did a 1968 Olympics Black Power salute, backs Colin. Surely Blacks need to end systemic racism in America and the NFL. At a rally outside NFL headquarters in New York City, Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams said “Yes, the NFL is a business and they can run it however they see fit," he said, and added, "but needs to approach this as a society issue."  Steelers’ offensive lineman Willie Colon told protestors: “Some people are down for the cause. You have to have a conscious decision on where you stand.”

A Sporting News headline purported a “Shock poll showing a third of NFL TV viewers boycotting games because of Kaepernick-led protests." Are Blacks willing to boycott the NFL and their advertisers? 

A nationwide boycott will show people of the African Diaspora uniting in actions to get NFL owners’ attention.  It’s time to look to NFL advertisers for assistance.  Isn’t it time to tell people at Papa John’s and Pizza Hut to “think about it?” 

Blacks should think about about telling McDonald's which spent $91.5 million on advertising during the 2015-2016 NFL season to “think about things”.  Hyundai which begins a four-year-deal this season replacing GM as the NFL’s official auto brand should get a message from African-Americans too. 
Sponsorships in the NFL are big business.  In 2016 sponsorship revenue generated $1.25 billion. The beer industry spent the most on NFL sponsorships in 2016 led by Anheuser-Busch. The second largest category was the auto-industry with sponsor Ford becoming the official NFL truck.

Will enough people support actions to back Kaepernick? What will happen to others in the future if he doesn't prevail?


William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via


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