Colin Kaepernick knelt for the national anthem. John Elway stood up for a Supreme Court nominee.
See the difference? Sporting News columnist David Steele does not.
In behavior, Elway and Kaepernick both expressed themselves, and, in Steele’s non-content-neutral way, we should judge that expression in a content-neutral manner. Elway wrote a short note endorsing the nomination of Coloradan Neil Gorsuch, “a big Denver Broncos fan,” to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate unanimously confirmed Gorsuch when he became a federal judge over a decade ago. Nearly as unanimously, NFL players rejected Colin Kaepernick’s form of protest this season, which consisted of sitting and kneeling for the national anthem, wearing socks depicting policemen as pigs, and praising Fidel Castro. One can say they engaged in the same activity—expression—the way Rembrandt and the local graffiti tagger partook in the same activity.
In treatment, Steele complains that Elway continues to hold down a job while Kaepernick remains a free agent. Beyond this, talent guardians allegedly locking the stadium gates on Kaepernick tend to embrace the views of the former Broncos quarterback rather than the former 49ers quarterback. This guarantees, according to Steele, a double standard.
“For some reason in the world of the NFL—and the world of those who like the way Elway thinks more than the way Kaepernick thinks—that means Kaepernick deserves to be effectively banned for life,” Steele writes. “Meanwhile, Elway deserves to have his full First Amendment rights respected, just like every other American, without having his job threatened.”
Alas, the NFL “effectively banned” Kaepernick the way they effectively banned Jay Cutler, Robert Griffin III, Mark Sanchez, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s called free agency. And in Kaepernick’s case, he opted for it. Kaepernick, like Cutler, Griffin, Sanchez, and Fitzpatrick, likely fields offers this offseason. Whether he accepts those offers depends upon whether he accepts that NFL teams no longer value him as a $16 million a year player and no longer see him as a starter.
Sitting on the bench next season does not come as a consequence of sitting for the anthem. It comes as a consequence of performing horribly after the national anthem performance.
John Elway runs a Denver Broncos franchise just a season removed from winning its first Super Bowl title since the two the team won when that #7 played quarterback. The other #7 went 1-10 this past season. See the difference? Again, David Steele does not.