The Rev. Jesse Jackson has taken up the cause of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, calling out NFL owners and the players association, who he said need to get the "courage to do the right thing" and sign the controversial player.
"The NFL has ignored him," Jackson said in an interview with Black Sports Online. "The commissioner has not spoken out to say he should not be 'blackballed,' as it were. But more than that, the players association has been silent, and it's their silence that astonishes me."
Jackson and others believe Kaepernick has been blackballed from the NFL as a result of his national anthem protests and comments about police brutality against minorities.
Jackson asserts that Kaepernick has been punished for participating in "legitimate, American and free protests against abusive behavior toward black people."
"He's not the first to engage in a protest of this sort," Jackson said. "He hasn't done anything violent, he's just making a statement that a free American can make, and he's paying the price for it. The NFL is silent and the players are silent, and it's not fair to him."
But NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told Albert Breer of the MMQB that the association fully supports Kaepernick. Jackson doesn't seem to understand that the league can't force a team to sign a player it doesn't want.
"We stand supporting our players, as we always have," Smith said. "We've been in touch, we haven't stopped being in touch with his agents and his representatives, and it's important for the union to consistently balance the issues, needs, desires of an individual player against the issues and objectives of the collective player."
Jackson said that if an owner would take the courage and sign Kaepernick for the upcoming season, they would not only be doing the right thing, but they'd get a "good ball player at the same time."
That's debatable. During Kaepernick's final two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2015 and 2016), the quarterback started 19 games. The 49ers were 3-16 in those starts. He did, however, throw 22 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions during those seasons.