Former Clinton Press Sec. Joe Lockhart: ‘Now Is the Moment to Sign Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick
Getty Images/Carmen Mandato

In a column for CNN, former Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said now, in light of the death of George Floyd, would be a perfect time for the Minnesota Vikings to sign Colin Kaepernick.

In his CNN editorial, Lockhart, who was also an NFL executive from 2016 to 2018, asserted that not one team has been willing to hire the league’s most infamous national anthem protester for fear of losing both fans and money. Lockhart admits that one team reckoned it would lose millions if they signed Kaepernick. He noted that he heard similar calculations from many other organizations, as well.

Kaepernick’s sidelining wasn’t for lack of effort by the league’s officers, though, Lockhart added. The NFL’s league officials made a significant effort to cajole the teams into re-signing the former 49er, Lockhart explained. But it was all to no avail. The teams simply didn’t want to risk the massive revenue loss with fans reacting in anger over the hiring of a player deemed by many to be thoroughly anti-American.

“Kaepernick was not blocked because the league wanted to punish him for setting off the protests,” Lockhart insisted. And from all the efforts of the league to push “social justice” causes, you can be sure Lockhart is right.

The teams just didn’t want to risk it.

“Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business,” Lockhart wrote. “An executive from one team that considered signing Kaepernick told me the team projected losing 20% of their season ticket holders if they did.”

Lockhart spent several paragraphs recounting the history of Kaepernick’s 2016 anthem protests, but he made one crucial error in this history that many liberal Trump haters make. He claimed that Trump is the one that started the national attack on Kaepernick.

Lockhart insisted that Kaepernick’s year-long protest against the country was not that big of a deal and that the league was seriously addressing the issue at the end of that 2016 season.

But then Trump struck: “That all changed on a Friday night in Alabama at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, where President Donald Trump called for kneeling players to be fired.”

“That one rally changed everything. Although Kaepernick had not been signed in the offseason, players’ protests to that point were primarily off the field — not during the anthem or on the field during games. But starting the following Sunday, hundreds of players were now kneeling, and a full-blown battle with the President was drawn,” Lockhart exclaimed.

This is a mischaracterization of the backlash against the NFL over the players protesting against the country during the national anthem. Trump did not create the national backlash against Kapernick and the many NFL anthem protesters as many liberals like Lockhart would like to believe. Trump only seized on the anger that Americans had already developed after an entire football season of millionaire players attacking the country while billionaire owners sat back and let them do it.

The left has been blaming Trump for the anger Americans developed over the anthem protests since that rally. But as any conservative talk radio fan knows, that anger was in full bloom only a few months into the 2016 NFL season. The fans did not suddenly get mad because of a Trump rally nearly a year after the protests had begun.

With many of the nation’s Democrat-led cities experiencing riots in the wake of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, Lockhart somehow thinks that signing Colin Kaepernick will lead to national healing.

Lockhart said that throwing $100 million of the league’s money at social justice issues wasn’t enough because Kaepernick remained unemployed.

“That symbol of racial injustice was reinforced every day that Colin sat on the outside of the football world. It may have seemed like a good business decision for the clubs to not sign him, and it certainly wasn’t illegal, but it was wrong,” he wrote.

So, to help ease the tensions in Minnesota, Lockhart insists that the Vikings should hire the sidelined player.

“The situation in Minnesota right now offers a unique opportunity to deal with the symbols of racial injustice,” Lockhart intoned. “As a small, but important step, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, Zygi and Mark Wilf, can send a strong message by offering Colin Kaepernick a contract to play with the Vikings. Bring him into camp, treat him like any of the other players given a chance to play the game they love.”

“It will not solve the problem of blacks and police violence. But it will recognize the problem that Kaepernick powerfully raised, and perhaps show that, with courage, real progress can be made,” Lockhart concluded.

To imagine that the NFL is so culturally powerful that hiring a man who has spent years denigrating this country would somehow solve racial division is the height of folly. It is far more likely that hiring Kaepernick will fan the flames of division because giving that particular player a contract will embolden his political agenda and give him sill another platform to continue attacking the country. That can’t do anything but further divide the fans and it certainly won’t lead to any healing.

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