LaDainian Tomlinson: NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick a “black eye”

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Over the weekend, a former NFL employee publicly criticized the league’s handling of the Colin Kaepernick situation. Now, a current NFL employee has spoken out against the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.

“It’s unfortunate and it’s sad and it’s a black eye on our league, no question about it,” Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I think now people are starting to appreciate what he did and they’re understanding of why he did what he did even though at the time he was telling us what he was doing it for. But people didn’t want to listen. They wanted to hijack the message and say, ‘Oh, he’s disrespecting the flag.’ Now when it’s blatant and it’s in your face, you have to accept the fact that, you know what, I was wrong. This is not right.”

How powerful would it be if the NFL and its owners were to send that same message in this moment? “We were wrong, and we are committed to changing our ways” is the kind of thing that would inspire millions to search their own hearts, to consider their own actions and attitudes, and to develop the comfort necessary to embrace real change in the way they think and act.

“I’m just glad people are not turning a blind eye,” Tomlinson added. “I’m happy they’re not saying this is just one incident and that’s a bad cop. I’m glad people are not doing that. We need true police reform. We need justice reform. We need criminal justice reform. We need all of these things.”

Tomlinson is encouraged by the fact that the murder of George Floyd has gotten the attention of those in the majority.

“If I’m being honest and true and transparent about this, our white brothers and sisters, to me, have finally said enough is enough,” Tomlinson said. “We know the history and now we’re seeing it over and over again. This is too much. We don’t want to live like this. The younger generation is saying this is not who we want to be, so we see a rise up with the younger generation.

“For so long, when Michael Brown got murdered and Tamir Rice, you know what I wondered? Why isn’t any of our big-time white quarterbacks saying anything? Because in the locker room, we’re supposed to be brothers. We fight and bleed for the same cause. I care about you just like you care about me. I don’t care what color you are. It’s all about winning in the locker room. Why aren’t they saying anything?

“Fast forward to now and Joe Burrow puts out a statement. Big-time white quarterbacks are now starting to say something.”

It’s a great development, but it’s just a start. Telling the truth and saying what needs to be said sometimes requires courage. Tomlinson has shown courage to criticize the league over Kaepernick (which remains a very sore spot for the NFL), given that the Commissioner signs Tomlinson’s NFL Network paychecks.

Will other league employees, going all the way up to the Commissioner himself, show similar courage to say and do the right thing at this critical moment in American history without regard to personal or professional consequence?

28 responses to “LaDainian Tomlinson: NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick a “black eye”

  1. Cap is the one who got benched for poor play. Cap is the one who wanted out of his contract. Cap is the one wearing pig socks to work. The Nfl gave Cap a chance and millions of dollars not sure how the Nfl did Cap wrong. ?

  2. I like when people say things like “no question about it” when that is not at all the case. Could Kaepernick be a victim here? Sure, no doubt about that possibility. But there are numerous reasonable alternative explanations for Kaepernick to not be in the league, and the absence of any attempt at DEDUCTION leading to statements of certainty is the real black eye. Assuming perspectives ahead of proof is a reliable way to create problems that weren’t there before.

  3. The NFL will do the right thing
    if they can make money doing it.

    The NFL won’t do the right thing
    if they might lose money for doing it.

  4. This issue starts and ends with racial profiling. This is done by not only the law enforcement agencies across this great nation, but also by its citizens of all color. We should all be considered innocent, law abiding citizens until proven otherwise. The change needs to start at the state government level. Each state needs to have a plan for hiring government officials and law enforcement personnel that are not racist or racially bias. This plan needs to be submitted to and governed by the Federal Department of Justice. If a state is found not to comply with upholding their own Federally approved plan, then they would be subject to losing any Federal funding that they normally receive. This would put the onus of racial profiling on each individual state where it belongs. This is not and should not be a Republican vs Democrat issue, it should be a civil rights issue. By each state owning it in their own states, it will take the political part out of the equation. Then maybe we can start healing the wounds of racism as one nation, under one flag.

  5. 2017 – cutting Kaepernick makes good business sense because the fans are divided over his protests.

    2020 – signing Kaepernick makes good business sense because fans suddenly agree with his message.

  6. The “Kaepernick was blackballed” argument is flimsy considering former MVP Cam Newton is currently unemployed.

    Talent must outweigh potential distractions and headaches to gain employment.

  7. Forget about Kaepernick the individual. The important point is that he was kneeling to bring attention to issues of social justice, especially discriminatory policing. But just as Tomlinson says, too many people who didn’t want to admit that we have a problem decided to re-cast what football player protesters were doing as anti-military, disrespect to the flag, and other such nonsense. And it worked, because instead of talking about the issues Kaepernick raised, we were all yelling at each other about distractions.

    Now we have another chance, brought about by tragedy, to focus on the important point. The NFL has a chance to be a voice for change and to keep being that voice. I would like to see all the players, all the coaches and all the owners go out on the field before every game and kneel together in brotherhood and to keep a light shining on the need for all of us to do the work to achieve social justice.

  8. Lot of people on here bemoan the violence associated with protests, but claim they are supporters of peaceful civil disobedience. Yet when Kaep did the latter he was vilified…

  9. One trick pony quarterbacks aren’t going to do much in a market saturated with talent, especially when the pony’s tricks have all been found out. Kap was not a good quarterback, if he wanted to play as a backup or gadget player and get paid like it I could see, but the guy wanted to be paid as an elite starter (which he is not)

  10. andyr2120 says:
    June 3, 2020 at 11:58 am
    2017 – cutting Kaepernick makes good business sense because the fans are divided over his protests.

    2020 – signing Kaepernick makes good business sense because fans suddenly agree with his message.

    Honestly I don’t know where you’re pulling your 2020 message from. The overwhelming majority of comments I see are still consistently of a ‘he just wasn’t good enough/worth the risk’ nature, not a ‘HE WAS BLACKBALLED’ nature. It’s the former players who have gotten more vocal and supportive of him than ever.

    chickensalad43 nailed it with his comment.

  11. Could his 3-16 record over his last 19 games and the fact he lost his job to Blaine Gabbert have anything to do with this. And people need to remember that HE opted OUT of his contract. He was under contract. He knew what he was doing. Knew he could parlay all of this to a nice big fat settlement. He has not wanted to play football for 4 years now..

  12. andyr2120 says:
    June 3, 2020 at 11:58 am
    2017 – cutting Kaepernick makes good business sense because the fans are divided over his protests.

    He was NOT cut. He opted out

  13. He was beaten out by Blane Gabbert in 2016 (btw he instantly became a public SJW) what else needs to be said??

  14. He also turned down a contract with Denver. He had NO intention of ever playing again. Take last years “Workout” for example. He made a mockery of that. I don’t care about the political nonsense, but he simply isn’t good enough to play

  15. No, it’s not.
    He did his protest on company time, then walked away from a decent contract, while playing like crap.
    He dug his own grave.

  16. Yesterday, Pete Carroll says the NFL “owes a lot to Kap.” Well, Pete, with Geno Smith your #2 QB, put your money where your mouth is & show the rest of the league there mistake and sign the former 49er already. If Wilson goes down, your season will go in the tank with Smith or scatter armed Gordon at the helm. Time to fix your team’s achilles heel, especially considering you have the worst OL in football

  17. The NFL is still a business. I imagine that teams felt that by signing him, their bottom line would have been impacted negatively. They must have felt that the risk wasnt worth it. Companies evaluate risk all the time, this isnt any different.

  18. The comments on these threads always confirm that NFL fans (at least the white ones) are among the most ignorant and backward people on the planet.

  19. Eric Reid was a player who was kneeling right along with Kaepernick. Reid continued to play after Kaepernick didn’t and the difference is that Reid had undeniable talent (that Kaepernick lacks) which means that it made sense for a team to employ Reid.

  20. The NFL did nothing wrong. It was the fans voices that made sure he did not make their teams roster. He is a pot-stirer. Nothing to like about him. He hasnt done a thing to help the issues he claims to stand up for. He just wants to cause more divide.

  21. On the field, his play had deteriorated and he was benched long before any kneeling. He had ended up being third stringer and couldn’t deal with it. When you looked at the cold hard stats regarding his race accusations and the police, his assertions don’t hold water. These are the reasons NFL teams wanted no part of him. Anything else is just stirring the pot.

  22. So Kaepernick and others kneeling during the national anthem is protected free speech and A-OK but Tim Tebow kneeling in the endzone after scoring a touchdown to thank God is unacceptable? Why don’t you woke types try to square that circle?

  23. The NFL is a league of second, third and even fourth chances with coaches and GM’s who would sell their families to win. If teams felt he could still play he would be on a roster.

  24. As football fans I do not understand why many of you push the false narrative of him losing his job to Gabbert. If you recall Kapernick had shoulder surgery in the off season and was recovering, once he was healed he was the starting quarterback again.

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