This is what my friend Adam Schefter wrote the other day after the Seattle Seahawks decided against bringing in Colin Kaepernick for a workout, what would have been his first since becoming a free agent after the 2016 NFL season:
“Seattle had contacted Kaepernick about two weeks ago to arrange a visit to the team’s headquarters, but after tentative arrangements were made and travel was planned, the trip was unexpectedly scuttled over the Seahawks’ last-minute stipulation regarding Kaepernick’s anthem stance, a source told ESPN. The source said the Seahawks wanted to know that Kaepernick wouldn’t kneel this season, and he was unwilling to give that assurance to them.”
This, then, continues to be the current climate of cowardly and small-minded and discriminatory group-think in pro football, where they use that famous shield of theirs to shield them from the political beliefs of players like Colin Kaepernick, beliefs they have clearly decided adversely affect their bottom lines. Apparently they’re worried that if those bottom lines of theirs are adversely affected, we might have to run benefits for NFL owners.
So the Seahawks did what they did this week, even though they’re saying no, no, no, the fact that Kaepernick famously began kneeling during the national anthem wasn’t the reason they withdrew their invitation. Sure it wasn’t.
Maybe Kaepernick, who is suing the league for collusion, might not be able to ever prove anything about the Seahawks, might not be able to prove league-wide collusion in a court of law. But in the same week as Kaepernick’s Seattle visit was cancelled, Bengals owner Mike Brown questioned Kaepernick’s former teammate, defensive back Eric Reid — also an unemployed NFL free agent — about his future plans for kneeling — or not — during the playing of the anthem, if Reid ever gets another job, that is.
Of course Reid was one of the very first to take a knee next to Kaepernick. These questions were asked by a guy, Brown, who would sign players out of a bar fight if he thought they could help him actually win a playoff game someday.
So this is the current, unwritten policy of NFL owners, who said a lot of big and brave things last fall when players were kneeling in September, and then immediately began to run from those players and run from the anthem controversy and, for the time being, continue to blackball Kaepernick and Reid. This continues to be a shame on this league, which once took millions from the Pentagon for displays of patriotism before and during NFL games. The hypocrisy of it all is rather thrilling.
The men and women who own NFL teams have bought into the cockeyed notion that protest and dissent of the kind practiced by Kaepernick and Reid make these players unpatriotic, even in a country where honorable and peaceful dissent is as patriotic as the flag that they are told they are disrespecting. But this isn’t about politics or beliefs or dissent, peaceful or otherwise. It’s about money. And fear.
But please consider that this is a league where you can be legally intoxicated and be behind the wheel of a moving automobile that kills someone and then resume your NFL career. It happened with Leonard Little, a star defensive end once for the (then) St. Louis Rams. Little left a party in October of ’98 when he was a Rams rookie, and was the driver of a car that killed a woman, and mother, named Susan Gutwiler, whose two children were with her in the car at the time, and survived the crash. Little’s blood alcohol level was 0.19. The legal limit in Missouri is 0.08. He ultimately received four years probation, a penalty of 1000 hours of community service, and an eight-game suspension in the ’99 season.
Little played another decade for the Rams after that. Was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in 2003.
You know the much longer list of NFL players given second — and third — chances for offenses far less serious than Little’s. Colin Kaepernick may never get one. For taking a knee.
Mike Florio, not only a smart pro football guy but a lawyer as well, wrote this the other day at his website, ProFootballTalk.com, after explaining the language in the league’s current collective bargaining agreement about how players “must” be on the field for the anthem, but “should” stand for it:
“Regardless of whether it’s ‘bad for business’ when players protest during the anthem, the NFL gave them that right, the NFL confirmed that right, and the NFL has reiterated the confirmation of that right. Making employment decisions based on the exercise of that right makes that right meaningless, which makes it flat-out wrong to consider past protests or plans to protest in the future when deciding whether to sign a player.”
Florio is right, about players’ rights. It’s not players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem that is un-American. It’s owners discriminating against those players by refusing to consider them for employment. Sometimes you wonder if the owners are the ones who are drunk here.
But the president must love it. NFL owners have built a wall between them and Colin Kaepernick.
Dark Garden, A-Rod the Met & Yankee pitching . . .
– Once the Knicks ended their season the other night, Madison Square Garden was officially dark, until the fall, for both them and the Rangers.
The last time it happened at Mr. Dolan’s Garden was eight years ago.
Now it happens again.
Not only don’t the Knicks and Rangers not have any official games for more than six months, neither one of them has a head coach right now and, well, make up your own joke on that one.
– For the last time (at least for now):
The way the Masters played out late Sunday afternoon, with Jordan Spieth trying to shoot a 62 at Augusta and catch Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler making that birdie on the 72nd hole to make Reed make a par to get the green jacket, just shows you that golf can still be pretty great even when Tiger Woods finishes in a tie for 32nd place.
Though I really did think that television was going to cover Tiger all the way to the airport.
– Here is what Mark Sanchez wrote the other day after getting popped for four games by the NFL for performance-enhancing drugs, and stop me if you feel as if you’ve heard this one before:
“I was blindsided by the news and I want to say unequivocally that I have never cheated or attempted to gain a competitive advantage by using a banned performance enhancing substance.”
– Alex Rodriguez knows, and the Mets know, and just about everybody who doesn’t like to rewrite history the way Alex does, knows, that there was a better chance of Jennifer Lopez being a Met in 2001 than of him being one.
There is a reason why Rodriguez ended up in Texas:
They offered him more money than anyone else did.
Like, way more.
In fact, they offered him exactly twice as much as the $126 million the Timberwolves had paid Kevin Garnett at the time, which meant that our Alex had scored exactly twice as much as Garnett after Garnett had the biggest contract around.
Three years later, the Rangers unloaded Rodriguez’s contract to the Yankees, because they had no chance to build a winning team around him.
Now he regrets not going with the Mets. Got it.
When Rodriguez took a called third strike to end the 2010 American League Championship Series, one that put the Rangers in the World Series at last, veteran baseball writer Gerry Fraley turned to me and said, “The Rangers wanted Alex to put them in the Series. He finally has.”
– Because the Red Sox twice didn’t have to bat in the bottom of the 9th against the Yankees this past week, it means they hit in 25 innings against our guys from 161st St.
In the process, they produced 27 runs.
It’s kind of a lot.
Then the Yankees went to Detroit on Friday night and allowed six more.
At least so far, then, you have to say their pitchers are ahead of hardly anybody’s hitters.
Nobody is writing him off, and he may turn out to be a big pitcher for the Yankees this season, but sometimes you look at Sonny Gray and think you really are watching the second coming of Javy Vazquez.
– James Harden had an amazing season, and so did his team, but he’s not the MVP in pro basketball because LeBron James still is.
In addition to everything else he did this season, and the way he looked like an even better player than ever — after already establishing himself as the best all-around player ever — he even managed to play all 82 games.
And if he somehow does make it to the NBA Finals for the 8th consecutive time, with two different teams — and essentially leading two different Cavs teams this season — it would stand with the greatest accomplishments in NBA history.
That it’s, that’s all.
– My old Daily News running mate Gary Myers is hosting a pre-NFL draft event at Foley’s (18 West 33rd) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Ernie Accorsi and Rich Cimini will be his guests on the panel.
No cover charge.
They’ll talk quarterbacks — who better than Ernie? — and Jets and Giants and one of the most anticipated drafts for the two New York/Jersey teams ever.
Sounds like it will be more fun than the whole season was at MetLife Stadium, frankly.
– Uh oh, after Friday night’s missile strike against Syria, we’re apparently all the way back to Mission Accomplished-ville.
I mean, what could ever possibly go wrong with a theory or a statement like that?
I keep reading and hearing that both Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson are candidates to be the next coach of the Knicks and keep thinking, wait a darn second, what about my pal Mike Breen?
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