By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
February is the month that we celebrate Black Excellence, and for sports fans, mark the accomplishments of historical African-American legends that helped pave the way for African-American success today.
Due to his dramatic stance against state-sponsored violence against Black Americans and the sacrifice that resulted of it, Colin Kaepernick has earned his place in a complete list of such legends and his developing story closed an important chapter late last week as Kaepernick settled his collusion lawsuit against the NFL, guaranteeing him as much as $80 million in payments.
This legal victory for Kaep over the league that blackballed him will go forward as one of the most integral and unforgettable achievements in modern-day African-American sports history. However, does this justify the fact that he still does not have a job in the league? Unfortunately, it does not.
In regards to police brutality in America, it is very rare for police officers to be convicted and punished of such crimes. Just ask the officers that murdered Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray and other young black men that have died within a eight-year span, and let us not forget that if police officers were convicted, many of the sentences have not risen to the seriousness of the crimes they commit.
In 2016, Peter Liang, a former New York City officer found guilty of manslaughter, was only sentenced to probation and community service. In 2018, former Texas officer Roy Oliver received a 15-year prison sentence for murder. Former New Orleans police officer David Warren was convicted for killing an unarmed civilian after Hurricane Katrina and he ended up receiving a 25-year and 9-month prison term.
When Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke became the city’s first patrolman in almost 50 years to be convicted for the murder of Laquan McDonald, the African-American community was filled with elation that we finally get to see a police officer — specifically a white police officer — pay for the crime he committed against, but 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm only got Van Dyke seven years in prison, and with good behavior he may only have to serve half of that sentence and the rest on parole.
Yes, Van Dyke was convicted, but does the punishment justify the crime he committed? No it does not. This is what I call “partial justice,” where someone does not get the full punishment for their actions, yet get’s punished enough so that they cannot get away with the crimes they commit. When we look back on Kaepernick’s situation, he is a victim of the system’s partial justice.
Kaepernick fought for justice within the African-American community, for the stoppage of police brutality, equal opportunities for woman and questioned America’s political message of “justice for all” and comparing it to the political action that is taking place.
The league blackballed him for exercising his first amendment rights and now it has cost them lots of money in a settlement that they really did not want to go up against, let alone go public. But even though a settlement was reached and he secured the bag, the settlement does not fully support the overall point of the collusion case, which was proof that they league purposely kept him unemployed for two years, knowing that he still had potential to play in the league.
Stats from the QB position across the NFL backup the fact that Kaepernick should not only have a fair shot for a position in the league, but should be on somebody’s roster, either as a backup or a starter.
Case Keenum, who currently starts at the position for the Denver Broncos, just finished his sixth season in the league and has a career average of 62 percent completion percentage along with 12,661 passing yards, 64 touchdowns, 416 rushing yards and an 85 passing rate. Kaepernick played for six years prior to his two-year absence and has career average of 60% completions with 12,271 passing yards, 72 touchdowns, 2,300 rushing yards and a 89 passing rate. Both players have had postseason success but Kaepernick taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 is a little more definitive than Keenum taking the Vikings to the 2017 NFC Championship game.
Kaepernick’s lawyer Mark Geragos has told CNN that Kaepernick still wants to play in the NFL. His former teammate and friend Eric Reid, who also was a part of the collusion case, got his chance back into the league last season when he signed a contract to join the Panthers for the final half of the season and now has a more permanent deal with the Panthers.
I am happy that Reid received his full justice, but Kaepernick has only recieved partial justice so far and he deserves the same treatment as Reid.
Until that happens, I will not be satisfied with the league’s deal to cover up their corruption against an innocent man who never committed a crime and has done nothing to deserve his fate.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR