Keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the NFL has kept away plenty of scrutiny that may have come from politicians who have made their views clear on Kaepernick’s protests. But that hasn’t kept the protests out of football, which will now make the NFL sit back and worry about the potential fallout from the activities of the past couple of days.
The decision of Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins to reprise his protest likely sparked a shrug at 345 Park Avenue, since Jenkins put a fist in the air during the anthem throughout 2016. Since Jenkins wasn’t the leader of the movement, it wasn’t a big deal — and probably won’t be this year.
The bigger problem for the league comes from the out-of-the-blue decision of new Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch to sit for the anthem, and in turn to decline (for now) to explain why he did. To the extent that owners reportedly have shied away from Kaepernick because they fear being tweet-shamed by the Commander-in-Chief, Lynch’s gesture breaks new ground in a major way.
A player who enjoys massive popularity throughout the nation and who is clearly good enough to not have to worry about suddenly being shunned for “football reasons” has now taken what Kaepernick started to a new, conspicuous level. The NFL, still wobbly from last year’s ratings dip and clearly worried that protests will alienate fans, will now have to wait and see what happens.
Here’s one thing that likely won’t happen: Raiders owner Mark Davis won’t be seeking input from fans and sponsors regarding whether his team should keep Lynch. Which may not enhance the standing of Davis among his peers, but maybe it should.