[News] Colin Kaepernick, Philando Castile and the lost wisdom of Roger Goodell’s father
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jun 26 10:48:36 EDT 2017
Colin Kaepernick, Philando Castile and the lost wisdom of Roger
June 25, 2017
*The need for radical voices has never been more pressing. Defending
voices that are being silenced is a task for all of us.*
*/by /**/Dave Zirin/* <https://www.thenation.com/authors/dave-zirin/>
/“I have come to see that our legal and political institutions are
dangerously unresponsive and unyielding to the impassioned grievances of
our own people.”/ – Sen. Charles Goodell
This is the picture Colin Kaepernick tweeted on June 16, 2017, on
hearing that the killer cop who shot Philando Castile point blank in a
car for no rational reason in front his girlfriend and her 4-year-old
daughter had been acquitted. Had it been in the time of the Runaway
Slave Patrol, however, Castile might have been spared, as he was worth
more to his “owner” alive than dead.
When Philando Castile’s killer, Officer Jeronimo Yanez, was found not
guilty on Friday – despite the fact that Castile’s murder was
livestreamed on Facebook – shock immediately spread from the streets to
social media. Some celebrities in the world of sports and entertainment
used their expansive platforms to spread the (rather self-evident)
message that a great injustice had occurred. They decried the fact that
a man had been killed solely because of a police officer’s reaction to
the color of his skin, and there would be no penalty for that killing.
But one athlete expressed something more serious, more radical and more
fitting for a political moment where, to quote Naomi Klein’s new book,
“No Is Not Enough.”
That athlete was exiled free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. First
he expressed his sympathies, writing, “My heart aches for Philando’s
Then he sent another message: “A system that perpetually condones the
killing of people, without consequence, doesn’t need to be revised, it
needs to be dismantled!”
Beneath those words, he posted a photo oftwo eerily similar badges
<https://twitter.com/Kaepernick7/status/875832378501074944>: One, from
the 19th century, reads “Runaway Slave Patrol” and the other, from the
21st century, reads “Police Officer.”
It was a bracing statement that spoke to our effort to understand how
the courts seem to have decided that cops have a license to kill if
their victim is Black. It was also a reminder that political expressions
like this are precisely why Kaepernick is still without a job.
That athlete was exiled free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
First he expressed his sympathies, writing, “My heart aches for
Philando’s family.” Then he sent another message: “A system that
perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence,
doesn’t need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled!”
NFL owners are set on punishing him for his anthem protests, his Know
Your Rights Camps <http://knowyourrightscamp.com/> that teach young
people “how to navigate oppression” and his social media postings. He
wants us to confront the gap between what this country purports to stand
for and the lived experiences of Black Americans.
For NFL owners, agitating for the dignity of Black life – unlike spousal
abuse, drunk driving or even murder – is unacceptable. Quarterbacks with
one-tenth of Kaepernick’s résumé have been invited to training camps,
while he and his spectacular 2016 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio
remain at home.
It’s a blackballing, and to deny this is to deny the existence of the
nose on your face. It’s having someone spit in your eye and tell you
Despite this, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected on Friday the idea
that any kind of blackballing was taking place. He called the NFL “a
“If they see an opportunity to get better as a football team, they’re
going to do it. They’re going to do whatever it takes to make their
football team better.
“So, those are football decisions. They’re made all the time. I believe
that if a football team feels that Colin Kaepernick, or any other
player, is going to improve that team, they’re going to do it.”
This is absurd and utterly at odds with the facts. It is also Roger
Goodell performing his central job: being “a flak-catcher,” the face to
get punched, when his 31 bosses behave in repugnant fashion. It would be
so much better if Goodell would stand up to them and tell the world the
truth: that Kaepernick is being punished for his politics. It would be
so much better if he had half the backbone of his father, Sen. Charles
Quarterbacks with one-tenth of Kaepernick’s résumé have been
invited to training camps, while he and his spectacular 2016 4:1
touchdown-to-interception ratio remain at home. It’s a blackballing.
Charles Goodell was a Republican senator from New York, appointed after
Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968. Charles Goodell was something
alien to today’s Washington, D.C.: a Republican of conscience.
He made President Richard Nixon’s enemies list by becoming the first
person to propose legislation that would cut off all funds for the war
in Vietnam. After being driven from office by the Republican
establishment, he wrote a remarkable 1973 book called “Political
Prisoners in America
The book is about the importance of defending dissenters as an essential
part of American democracy.
Charles Goodell wrote: “I have come to see that our legal and political
institutions are dangerously unresponsive and unyielding to the
impassioned grievances of our own people …. When words of appeal fall
upon a seemingly inert system, words give way to action.”
He passionately argued that squelching dissent is an autocratic act, at
odds with democratic norms. He also wrote that the actions of people in
power resistant to dissent are insecure in their own ideas, and their
inability to see the world through the eyes of others is a sign not of
strength but weakness.
These words of Charles Goodell from 44 years ago could have been written
today to describe the situation with the NFL, Colin Kaepernick and
Goodell’s son. They also speak to the importance of defending radical
athletes with giant platforms in an era when Philando Castile’s killer
could somehow be found not guilty.
Roger Goodell doesn’t have to agree with Kaepernick, but he could be
defending Kaepernick’s right to not be exiled and prevented from making
a living. If the NFL commissioner disagrees with me, I know a book he
could read that might change his mind.
/Dave Zirin is the author of several books, including “//The John Carlos
(Haymarket) and his latest, “//Brazil’s Dance with the Devil/
sports editor for //The Nation/ <http://www.thenation.com/>/magazine,
where //this column/
appeared. Visit and contact him through his website //EdgeofSports.com/
<http://www.edgeofsports.com/>/. Follow him on Twitter //@EdgeofSports/
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