Political activism often comes with a price. It can hurt actors at the box office, and stores at the register. But, will it hurt NFL players in free agency? Perhaps the answer will come starting March 9, when NFL free agency gets underway.
There are several activist-players slated for free agency, including San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the ball rolling on national anthem kneeling during the 2016 preseason.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Four days before Kaepernick’s first anthem protest in August, he wore a pair of socks at practice featuring police portrayed as pigs. Will the QB-shopping NFL team risk signing this player, and turning off the fans who love the police and the country? While Kaepernick might help a team on the field, which is iffy considering his recent performance, he could hurt at the turnstile.
And, if you support President Donald J. Trump and the State of Israel, do you sign New England Patriots soon-to-be free agent tight end Martellus Bennett? Not only is Bennett blowing off the Patriots’ White House visit honoring their Super Bowl win, he backed out of a recent NFL goodwill trip to Israel, in part due to pressure from left-wing activists Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover and Angela Davis.
The athletically-gifted 29-year-old Bennett is likely headed to his fifth team in 10 years, so clearly there are NFL coaches wary of his locker room lawyer nature.
Joining Bennett’s boycott of the Israel trip is Miami Dolphins free agent wide receiver Kenny Stills. Will his slight towards Israel impact the decision making of Dolphins Jewish owner Stephen Ross and Personnel VP Mike Tannenbaum on whether to bring him back? Stills was an anthem-kneeler to boot.
Another free agent anthem-kneeler is Stills’ Dolphins teammate, safety Michael Thomas, who feels his season-long protest was helpful.
“It’s helping because it’s showing there are guys that [have] the status that [have] a voice that people are willing to listen [are] actually taking that stance and speaking up for those who don’t have a voice, those who are crying out for help,” Thomas told Breitbart Sports on November 7.
But will GMs be “crying out” for Thomas’ services after he disrespected the flag in 2016?
True talent usually transcends everything when teams make personnel decisions, so if a team thinks any of these players can help them, they will likely get a gig.
However, teams need to keep in mind some customers might stay away from games.