Yahoo Sports interviewed one of its columnists recently in an attempt to counter the characterization of President Trump, that NFL anthem protesters are “unable to define” why they’re protesting.
In a lengthy piece, Yahoo’s Jay Busbee says the protests have always been about “social injustice.” However, this is explanation leaves out some crucial aspects of what Colin Kaepernick said about why he launched his protests in 2016.
Busbee attempted to explain the reasoning behind Kaepernick’s protests, while also blaming Trump for inflaming the anti-protest movement.
Yahoo’s David Knowles asked Busbee if he thinks Trump misunderstands the protests:
This began with Colin Kaepernick protesting social injustice, specifically police brutality against people of color. It was very specifically targeted and narrowly defined. It was in no way any kind of protest against the military or anything of that nature. And then it really took off, ironically enough, when Trump himself, back in week three of last year’s NFL season, brought up the idea that any protester should be fired.
But this is an incomplete explanation.
After his initial protest, Kaepernick outlined his motivations to NFL Media: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” the former Super Bowl starter explained. “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.”
Then, after his protests began, Kaepernick was discovered to have tweeted out the claim that the USA was no different at all from the slave-holding Confederacy of the Civil War. In a social media post that Kaepernick deleted after criticism of his anthem protest grew, the player posted an image of the U.S. and Confederate flags. He captioned the photo: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.”
In another anti-American outburst early in his protests, Kaepernick insisted that his protests were meant to “make America great for the first time.” In so many words, the player was saying that America is not now and has never been a great nation.
The San Francisco 49ers second-string quarterback was also seen wearing socks during a 2016 practice session that depicted police officers as pigs. Socks which also made no distinctions and portrayed all cops as pigs.
Kaepernick, at least early in his protest, was explicit that he was kneeling against the United States from top to bottom, not just protesting inequality in the criminal justice system.
In contrast to Busbee’s assertion, Americans were growing madder by the week over the anti-American protests long before Trump began making it an issue at his rally’s.
It only took a few weeks for fans to turn against Kaepernick and they did so before Trump said the first word against the kneeling. Only a month after he first began protesting against the country and as other players began to join his protest during the national anthem, an online poll of NFL fans revealed that Kaepernick was the most disliked player in the entire league.
By October of 2016, two months after Kaepernick’s protest had spread through the NFL, evidence was already showing that fan boycotts were hurting the league’s viewer ratings. As Breitbart Sports reported, as each week passed during the 2016 season, early evidence piled up to indicate that viewers had begun tuning out in droves. Ratings for the NFL’s week five games plummeted over ratings from 2015 showing that Americans had become fed up with the anti-American protests before half the season was over.
That same month, Breitbart Sports reported that the NFL had also begun losing millions in advertising fees as the broadcast networks began issues givebacks to advertisers for fees that were based on larger audience numbers than the games were actually earning.
A multitude of fans also rose to criticize Kaepernick and the league. In August, fans began taking to social media with videos and messages about burning their NFL gear, especially Kaepernick jerseys.
The former 49er then decided that backlash was proof that America was filled with racists.
“One of the things I’ve noticed throughout this is there’s a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism,” Kaepernick said. “And people want to take everything back to the flag, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking racial discrimination, inequalities, and injustices that are happening across the nation.”
However, as discussed, Colin Kaepernick began his protests on the premise that the flag was a symbol of racism, and that the country had never been great. It was not merely about rogue cops killing or mistreating minorities.
The two Yahoo Sports writers go on to say that the president has “galvanized this protest movement.”
This claim does ring true. Trump has served as a focal point for the anger Americans feel for the anti-American protests. But, while Trump has highlighted and, yes, “galvanized,” the protests, he did not create the backlash against the protests and the NFL. Trump merely reflects this anger. He did not create it.
Ultimately, Busbee predicts that an NFL owner will stand up to Trump, and encourage the league to allow the protests
“I think it’s going to keep going until one of the owners steps up and says, ‘Enough! This is what we’re doing. This is where we stand,’ and then take the blast from Trump for a little bit longer and then he’ll go and find something else to attack.”
for the moment, however, it doesn’t appear that the protests or Trump’s criticisms of them, are going anywhere.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.