What Did Colin Kaepernick Sacrifice?

Roland Martin, who once had jobs at CNN and TVOne, is now hosting a new streaming webcast.

Having seen Project 21 member Christopher Arps’s recent Daily Caller commentary about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, Martin had Christopher on his show as one of his first guests to try to “school” him on the issue. Like some of the technical aspects of the less-than-a-month-old show, Martin wasn’t ready.

They focused their discussion on Colin Kaepernick, whose protests begat many copycats throughout the league that continue to this day.

While Martin claimed that Kaepernick’s inability to be signed is due to being “whiteballed” (a play on the term “blackballed” – get it?) by NFL owners, Kaepernick recently became the face of Nike’s new advertising campaign. In his commentary, Christopher wondered – considering the suffering of others – what Kaepernick has truly sacrificed by no longer playing football.

Questioned by Martin, he added:

I think with Colin Kaepernick – what you see with this situation – he may have lost, I don’t know, a few years of his football career. And we don’t know – his career may still continue.

But he has still been paid by Nike, and he has gotten a very large campaign – for this new Nike campaign where he’s going to be doing quite well. So… what has he sacrificed?

When Martin asked Christopher if he could name the exact value of Kaepernick’s Nike contract, Christopher replied that he didn’t know but that “I’m sure it’s much more than what you and I both make.” No challenge from Martin.

It’s likely in the many millions of dollars.

While the two went back and forth for almost 20 minutes, with Martin speaking over Christopher quite a few times, Christopher was nonetheless able to explain why the whole issue of players kneeling is hurting the NFL and the long-term profitability of the sport. This is why owners weren’t interested in signing Kaepernick:

I think part of the reason that he’s not being signed is because teams don’t want the publicity of what he brings. The bad publicity… You’re gonna have half of the fans in the stadium who are going to be rooting for him and the team, and you’re gonna have the other half – if they show up at the stadium – not rooting for him.

So, I think it was the same thing here when the Rams – Michael Sam, the gay player. No team wanted him. Part of it was because he wasn’t good enough to be in the NFL. But a lot of it – the team didn’t want the distraction that it brought.

Christopher pointed out that employers, including NFL team owners, should not have to accommodate employees – the players, in this case – protesting on the job and on the employer’s dime. Martin, apparently not realizing the limits of free speech in the private sector, asked: “The First [Amendment] allows for protest… So you’re mad that an American is exercising their right as an American to protest?”

Christopher then schooled Martin. He explained that, in a previous job as a UPS supervisor, he wore a Malcolm X t-shirt while subbing for one of his employees. Management asked him to change his attire because it was considered improper for that workplace. So he changed. “I was on my job. I was on their time.”

Just like Colin Kaepernick was. And now he’s not – but making a lot of money despite not currently playing a sport. So what was he forced to sacrifice?



Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.