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OPINION: Brady and Kaepernick: The NFL’s Political Double Standard


Image Source: NBC News

Analise Bruno, Writer

2016 was an interesting year in sports news as headlines flooded with photos of Colin Kaepernick rather than their typical broadcasting. However, Kaepernick didn’t become the center of attention everywhere for simply playing the game, but rather for sparking up controversy over his peaceful protesting in which he kneeled during the playing of the US National Anthem. His simple demonstration became more of a social wedge than anticipated as many were quick to either support or criticize his actions. At the time of the protest, the NFL made it abundantly clear that they did not support Kaepernick’s demonstrations and effectively used that to blacklist him in the football industry by keeping him in an alleged “free agent saga” as no other teams would sign/draft him. Furthermore, he was even benched by coach Chip Kelly for a few games following the demonstration.

This entire situation made it abundantly clear that Kaepernick’s treatment by the NFL was not one shaped by football, but politics. At the time, the League’s policy for standing during the anthem was that it was “encouraged” but not required by an individual player to compete. Therefore, Kaepernick’s treatment by the NFL was a violation of their own rules based heavily on their political difference.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated that, “I support our players when they want to see a change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I believe very strongly in that” furthering the idea that the punishments levied on Kaepernick were not coming from the rulebook, but over a disagreement in politics that did not align with the general beliefs of the NFL.

At the time of his peaceful protest, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Kaepernick made it clear that he did not kneel out of disrespect for the troops, but rather because it was unfair of him to stand for a flag that represents a country where racism, oppression, and brutality still exist saying,“The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-men and women of the military, and that’s not the case at all,” he says. “I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee. So I have the utmost respect for them.”

In the wake of the BLM movements, the NFL has claimed they held some regret for the way they went about treating Kaepernick at the time of his protests, but many are now beginning to notice a great sense of hypocrisy within the league now that Superbowl LV was approaching. The teams that played this year were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the returning Kansas City Chiefs. This game in particular was but a great observation as the former star quarterback of the Patriots, Tom Brady, would be competing in his seventh Superbowl with a brand new team. Brady has been known to be a long-time supporter of former President Donald Trump, as the two were allegedly former gold buddies. The former President is known for stirring a lot of controversies not just on the media, but also politics, for his very intolerant views/policies, and blatant racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice, and anti-immigration actions. The point is, clearly many have rightfully differing opinions on the behavior and actions of the former President. However, after a photo went around of Brady with a MAGA hat posed in a locker during Trump’s campaign, many began questioning why his stance in politics did not constitute any reaction from the NFL which front the real question: why was the NFL was able to separate the game from politics in the case of Brady but not Kaepernick? 

Many would argue that it has something to do with Brady’s notoriety for his many Superbowl wins, while others may say it was because Brady never “disrespected the flag” by deciding to kneel. However, based on the actions of the former President, it is justified to say that those who support him also generally support his beliefs, many of which were incredulously intolerant and hateful. This furthers the question of why the NFL blacklisted Kaepernick for his views while once again uplifting Brady as the Buccaneers entered Super Bowl LV. When asked in an interview if he agreed that black athletes in the league were generally given less room to weigh in on politics/controversial topics than white players (considering he received no backlash for sharing his political opinion with the clear displaying of his support for Trump) Brady claimed he essentially had no comment on the situation.

Whether you are an avid football watcher, or if you simply tune in to see the halftime show once a year, there is no denying that the NFL seems to have a different standard when it comes to their players. It’s a simple fact that if Brady was given the autonomy to freely express his controversial political belief, then Colin Kaepernick should have been given the same right when choosing to kneel. In essence, Kaepernick never broke NFL rules by refusing to stand for a flag that does not protect what it stands for, yet, he was still punished by the NFL simply because its general administration did not agree with his political opinion. The ideas of civil discourse should have been applied in Kaepernick’s case the same way it was Brady’s, where even if the league may or may not have disagreed with his views, they should have respected his peaceful protesting. The NFL’s unwillingness to do so, proves they are still upholding a system that is ladened with clear racism and hypocrisy.

While there may be nothing wrong with acknowledging that Tom Brady is a very talented athlete, it is also important to consider his personal political views and how they were received by the NFL in comparison to Kaepernick’s shows blatant racism that we should not be condemning. 


*This opinion article reflects the voice of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Viking Times as a whole.  Like most news outlets, The Viking Times is a non-partisan media platform.**

About the Writer
Analise Bruno, Editor

Hi, my name is Analise and I am currently a junior at Winthrop High School. This is my first year on the staff and I am really excited to get to write...

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OPINION: Brady and Kaepernick: The NFL’s Political Double Standard