Kaepernick is no Jim Brown

Football player Colin Kaepernick

Football players Colin Kaepernick and Jim Brown
In 2002 the Sporting News named Jim Brown the greatest professional football player ever. That recognition came as a result of Brown’s on field prowess, where he set all kinds of rushing records by running through and over top of various obstacles in order to get to where he wanted to be. It was the same approach Brown employed off the field as an activist and entrepreneur. Sports reporters at the time noted that whenever Jim was traveling with the team, or on his way to a meeting, he wore a jacket and tie, and carried a briefcase. Jim was all business on and off the field. And when he sought to correct socio-economic ills of the day, he did what he set out to do. No stunts. No protests. Just results.

When Muhammed Ali refused induction into the Army to fight in the Viet Nam war based on his religious convictions, Jim Brown stood along side him, daring anyone to question HIS patriotism. When others merely commented on economic disparities among the races, Jim Brown founded AmerICan, and trained minorities to succeed in life and in business. When civic leaders in Los Angeles could only wring their hands at the epidemic of gang violence, Jim Brown brought Crips and Bloods together for a summit meeting to work things out, and stop destroying their own communities. Jim Brown commanded respect because he walked the walk. No stunts, No protests. Just results.

Two years ago, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick heard about how white police were shooting and harassing unarmed black citizens, so he decided to make a symbolic statement by refusing to stand for the national anthem which he believed represented an America he couldn’t abide. This from a man who had never bothered to vote. This from a man who sulked and mumbled at press conferences, but never spoke up about how to address the problems of racial justice. This from a man who suddenly wanted to be taken seriously without paying his dues on or off the field.

Kaepernick became a folk hero for kneeling during the national anthem, and many players throughout the league followed his lead. But for what? And to what end? All Kaepernick accomplished was to further divide the nation, cause TV networks to stop covering the national anthem, and get a big contract from Nike to appear in a series of ads. But like Kaepernick himself, the Nike ad has no cred. While showing a close-up of Kaepernick, the message proclaims, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”. Sacrificing everything? Are you kidding? What exactly did Colin Kaepernick sacrifice? He played for six seasons in the NFL and pocketed $43 million dollars, then refused to re-sign with the 49ers, and now whines about not being hired by another team.

When asked to comment on the on-going Kaepernick saga, Super Bowl champion Ray Lewis told the Skip and Shannon show, “If you don’t have a solution, then you’re just protesting for nothing.” Colin Kaepernick, the man who never votes, has no solutions. He’s too ill-informed and too naïve to realize that the way to change the system is to work within the system. Commenting for Post-Game.com, the great Jim Brown said, “Football is commercial. You have owners, you have fans, and you want to honor that if you’re making that kind of money…I’m an American, and I don’t do anything to desecrate my flag or the national anthem.”

Jim Brown used his platform as a celebrity to help us find solutions to difficult problems. No stunts. No protests. Just results. Colin Kaepernick and Nike would do well to follow Jim’s lead. Instead of talking, they should “Just Do It.”


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