He is talented but unemployable in his chosen field.

He is brave, but management is afraid he’s bad for business.

He’s started in a Super Bowl, but legions who couldn’t carry his playbook call him a loser. They are the same ones who like to quote Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech of 1910, the one criticizing critics: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback without a team, never left the arena. Even his loudest detractors admit he was bloodied for taking a stand.

He demonstrated against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem when he played for the San Francisco 49ers.

Blackballed from pro football since the 2017 season, Kaepernick continued to speak out. He said ethnic minorities, especially black people, know routine encounters with police officers often turn deadly.

As of this week, Kaepernick has never been stronger in terms of his public standing.

Four unfit cops in Minneapolis have given new voice to Kaepernick’s message. One of the officers knelt on the neck of a handcuffed black man, George Floyd, for more than eight minutes.

The other officers didn’t serve or protect. They watched Floyd take his last breath.

This case is different from many others in which police used excessive force.

Kaepernick’s peaceful kneel-down in a packed stadium will forever be compared with the police officer’s knee on Floyd’s neck.

And now many more professional athletes, black and white, are speaking on the cause that turned Kaepernick into an outcast.

“I just don’t see how a man in handcuffs on the ground who is clearly detained and is clearly in distress, I don’t understand how that situation can’t be remedied in a way that doesn’t end in his death,” said J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.

Watt is white and one of the NFL’s stars. He also is among the most popular and community minded players in all of professional sports. Watt led a campaign that raised tens of millions of dollars to rebuild Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

The four officers in Minneapolis have been fired by their chief. We’ll see if they are charged criminally and prosecuted.

Already clear is the former officers and their police union will mount a defense to any allegations, regardless of whether they are administrative, civil or criminal.

They will say an officer kneeling for more than eight minutes on the neck of a shackled, gasping 46-year-old man was by the numbers.

Floyd will be demonized by the former cops and their lawyers. Those responsible for his death will have a better chance of working again in law enforcement than Kaepernick has of suiting up for an NFL team.

President Donald Trump once used profane language in calling for the firing of NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem. Most team owners can only be described as, well, weak-kneed. Trump and dissidents make them nervous.

The NFL recently classified Kaepernick as a retired player. This was not true. Never did Kaepernick say he was done with football.

After being challenged on this point, the NFL changed Kaepernick’s status to unrestricted free agent.

Any of the 32 NFL teams could sign him. Even at age 32 and absent from the NFL for more than three years, Kaepernick is better than many quarterbacks taking up space on rosters.

Yet he is treated worse than a criminal.

Another exciting pro quarterback, Michael Vick, ran a dog-fighting ring. He served 18 months in a federal prison for his crimes.

But the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers hired him after he was freed.

That was fine with me. People always talk about rehabilitating convicted felons. Hiring them is a first step.

In contrast to Vick, Kaepernick has harmed no one and committed no crime.

His message about police brutality against black people rings truer than ever. It’s still not enough to get him back in the league.

At last, though, there’s a bit of social order.

The quarterback whose kneel-down damaged nothing except a few blades of grass no longer is Public Enemy No. 1.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnewmexican.com or 505-986-3080.

(17) comments

Cynthia Juengel

So..... here we go again! More hate and TDS ( Trump Derangement Syndrome).

Even the writer of this article avoids the truth. Kaepernick was a jerk! He wasn't really opposing police brutality. He was out to show his I.Q. and wanting attention. Like a spoiled child. This latest death of a caught criminal has caused another excuse for morons to destroy .... towns, businesses, raping and stealing. Generally destroying neighborhoods where REAL PEOPLE live, including their own! Real smart! I hope they LEAVE it destroyed so they can live in the dump hole they created.

As for the policeman, he was wrong to continue to use enough force to kill a man, even after he was in cuffs.

Today we found our that these two men were NOT strangers! They worked together for 17 years at a fast food company. Makes you kind of wonder if maybe they already had a beef!

We don't know. But that's why we have COURTS! THAT is where the truth will be discovered. Angry, hateful hearts are to blame for using anything they can to destroy homes, businesses, lives , etc...

Those are the actions of unintelligent, RACIST bigots. Just an excuse.

Then there HAS to be the black souls that have a need to bring President Trump in on their nasty rants!

There is absolutely NO REASON to harbor hate for our president. We finally have a president who actually LOVES our country and our people! What did Obama do for the country.... except try to destroy it! Aide our enemies. Give them our money to kill us with.... bring them here to do the job inside the USA. Train them to kill us, arm them, and protect them for their hate a atrocities they did to our people! More...... what did he do for the black man? NOTHING! Chicago has one of the highest murders of blacks by their own people in the nation! Yeah! He was GREAT.... wasn't he?!

Trump gave more help to the blacks in our country by making the numbers of blacks with jobs higher than ANY other time in our history. He made our country's economy better than any time in history! He freed more blacks from prisons and gave them training to be hired in good paying jobs! WHAT DID OBAMA DO?????? NOTHING...... except have parties and playing golf!!! While people died!

Anywsy.... I'm sure I will get all kinds of nasty remarks thrown at me for this..... That's what ignorance does!

As for this article.........Ignorance is bliss!

Khal Spencer

So, are you suggesting that Officer Chauvin had a motive for murdering Floyd?

Mike Johnson

Khal, it is interesting Amy did not prosecute him before when given a chance.....https://theweek.com/speedreads/916926/amy-klobuchar-didnt-prosecute-officer-center-george-floyds-death

Khal Spencer

"...As The Washington Post noted in March, Klobuchar "declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police" as Hennepin County attorney. Instead, she "aggressively prosecuted smaller offenses" that "have been criticized for their disproportionate effect on poor and minority communities," the Post continues. .."

Ugh.

Stefanie Beninato

Colin Kaepernick lives by his convictions. As for bringing the Liar/Denier/Slayer in Chief into the discussion, it was Trump who called it out as what? disrespectful, treasonous? demanding the firing of any player "who took a knee"? Have you seen the video of Trump at the NFL playoffs in a private box during the national anthem? Everyone else is standing still, hand over heart. Not Trump--he is pretending to lead an orchestra and then points and calls out to individuals in the crowd--like the TV carnival barker he really is. Yet you and no Republicans called Trump out on that absolutely hypocritical and disrespectful display! Yeah, respect for the flag and our country's history (sarcasm)!

Jim Klukkert

Cynthia Juengel- Your cultivated and willful ignorance is alarming.

Colin Kaepernick is a hero not only to African Americans, but world wide, for standing up to the systemic violence that is a stain on centuries of the history of the Americas.

Media in the streets being arrested, the Bully in the WH calling our fellow citizens thugs!

November cannot come too soon.

Mike Johnson

But he just can't catch a break......https://babylonbee.com/news/rioters-decline-to-sign-colin-kaepernick?utm_content=buffer42ac6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fbclid=IwAR0GHRAWjlZGIEcFkNMG83P6p9JZvyNYBolH-nDcXSreBBAS1Kw3nGO-Oc0

Mike Johnson

Good try Milan, but this is the most egregious and ridiculous stretch of imagination to compare the man killed by cops to a racist and washed up football player who craves attention. Not at all alike.

Jim Klukkert

Wrong again Dr. Johnson, and probably not a good time to be dumping on any black folks, we've got Frump and bad cops to do that in spades.

Mike Johnson

I see, so if you are a real black you would never criticize another black......if you are white and ever criticize a black you must be a racist. Some politicians think that way too.....

Spencer Ralston

Thank you Milan for this timely op-ed piece. Let’s not forget that it was the idiot in the White House who demonized Colin’s taking a knee. That caused his blind followers to go rabid which then caused the team owners to lose their spines (if they ever had one) and cave in. Disgraceful!

Chris Mechels

It would be nice, and useful perhaps, if Milan and the New Mexican would strongly oppose our own killer cops; like those who killed Anthony Benavidez.

But Minneapolis is at a safe distance. And our local killers have the Mayor's support.

Jim Klukkert

Chris Mechels- Agreed: Milan and the New Mexican SHOULD strongly oppose our own killer cops.

But Minneapolis is just a heartbeat away, and definitely part of our country. All state sanctioned violence must end NOW.

Khal Spencer

It would be entirely possible to establish a Citizen Review Board of police conduct, if one does not already exist. Not as a hostile body to "go after" cops but as an independent set of eyes outside of the police or law enforcement establishment that would review cases and have as resources legal and forensics experts to speak with.

Jerry Appel

Writing nearly 100 years ago Langston Hughes wrote this about what happens when a country acts like a hypocrite:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

This week those deferred dreams exploded.

Judy Neunuebel

Thank you for this insightful editorial. Colin Kaepernick is a courageous hero, willing to sacrifice his career for his beliefs and stand with humanity. We need more like him.

Khal Spencer

“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”

― Primo Levi

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