The words and actions of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have caught the attention not only of the police association in the city his team calls home (even if it doesn’t play there anymore) but the national organization of American police unions. For Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, images of Kaepernick wearing at practice socks adorned with pigs wearing police hats was the last straw.
“It’s just ridiculous that the same league that prohibits the Dallas football club from honoring the slain officers in their community with their uniforms stands silent when Kaepernick is dishonoring police officers with what he’s wearing on the field,” Johnson told Josh Peter of USA Today.
“I think the league is in a downward spiral regarding their obligations to the public under Roger Goodell, and this is just another example of that,” Johnson said.
The perceived downward spiral is being regarded as hostility toward police officers by Johnson.
“I expect more from the NFL,” Johnson said. “The NFL has exhibited — it’s not just tone deafness, it seems to be an act of dislike of police, frankly.”
Johnson apparently didn’t mention the most troubling incident that occurred in recent weeks, when Browns running back Isaiah Crowell posted on social media an image of a police officer having his throat slashed. Somehow, that despicable display from Crowell went unpunished by the Browns or the NFL; the fact that Crowell showed contrition and vowed to donate his first game check of the year to a fund benefiting the families of fallen Dallas officers helped defuse the situation. The fact that the Browns regard him as talented surely didn’t hurt, either.
Kaepernick explained on Sunday his concerns regarding the misconduct of specific police officers who commit unwarranted violence against minorities. His decision to wear socks that mock police officers generally is harder to explain away, although he has tried to do so.
The comments put more pressure on the NFL to say or do something in support of police officers. Crowell’s behavior sparked a threat to boycott providing security services at NFL games in Cleveland. If the concerns articulated by Johnson become sufficiently widespread among police officers throughout the country, that could happen in any of the 31 stadiums where NFL games are played.