Hating The Game: Did Michael Vick Sellout?
“First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair.”
Michael Vick offered Colin Kaepernick some unsolicited advice as a guest on Fox Sports 1’s “Speak For Yourself”. After listening to him say, “I really think the stand that he took has nothing to do with him not having a job playing in the National Football League right now.” I was disappointed. Michael Vick was the previous owner of the shoes Colin now fills. There will be over 100 quarterbacks competing for jobs before rosters are cut and Vick doesn’t think Kaepernick is better than half of them? Does he really believe 32 head coaches, 32 general managers, and 32 owners simultaneously came to the conclusion he couldn’t play anymore?
Vick’s words opened him up to ridicule from some of his most loyal supporters in the black community, but calling Michael Vick a sellout does nothing to address the root of Colin’s problem. The NFL is ran by people who have very little, if any, vested interest in the issues he was protesting. In the NFL, the only Black Lives that Matter are the ones that are profitable. If you can run a 4.3 40-yard dash and keep your mouth shut you can do almost anything and maintain employment.
“Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct. Even if he puts cornrows in there. I don’t think he should represent himself in that way (wearing the Afro). Just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot.
The NFL is a meritocracy as long as you don’t hurt the bottom line. Kaepernick would have been better off had he beaten up a pregnant white woman. Rapist and domestic abusers are welcomed back to the NFL because their crimes don’t cost the league revenue or challenge its authority. When a player, irrespective of race, beats a woman, she’s the victim. Colin’s protest caused a public outcry that victimized the league. NFL owners don’t suffer losses well and aren’t willing to face economic backlash for signing an unrepentant Kaepernick. No one knows this better than Michael Vick.
Michael Vick had to kiss the proverbial ring to get his second chance. I’m not sure Kaepernick is willing to (publicly) do the same; his circumstances are a lot different than Vick’s were. Vick was hemorrhaging money due to the termination of his endorsement deals and his Atlanta Falcons contract. When Vick filed for bankruptcy protection he owed his creditors 18 million dollars. Kaepernick, who hasn’t made as much money as Vick did before his troubles, is in far better financial shape. Vick had no choice but to acquiesce. He was never going to come through his bankruptcy and get his life back together without the NFL.
“I just think perception and image is everything. This is not the Colin Kaepernick that we’ve known since he entered the National Football League. I’m just going off my personal experiences. Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field. This has to be a start for him.”
Michael Vick gave Colin Kaepernick the kind of practical advice any public relations expert or image consultant would give him, but he did it in the company of a toxic sports personality. Jason Whitlock is less popular in the black community than Diabetes. Every few weeks he gives #BlackTwitter a reason to hate him. Vick’s statements, if made to someone whose commitment to the black community is unquestionable, wouldn’t have been so controversial. Vick never condemned Kaepernick for his protest. He acknowledged the reason for his protest and thanked him for doing it. Vick’s advice, however pragmatic, calls for Colin’s Submission. If Colin crawls back and begs for forgiveness he could make a lot of money, but that money will cost him his integrity.
It’s easy to attack Michael Vick’s words from the comfort of a smartphone or tablet. Michael Vick was in debt, had a family to provide for, and had millions of dollars on the line. He gave the right answer for someone in his situation. If Colin wants to wear another NFL jersey he probably knows he has to “play the game”. This is unpopular, it’s unfair, but it’s the reality in the NFL. A man who kneeled to take a stand might have to bow to take a snap. This isn’t right. He is being punished. We can hate the player, but we should probably hate the game that asks brothers to scratch when it doesn’t itch.