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49ers' Colin Kaepernick Should Keep It Off the Field

49ers' Colin Kaepernick Should Keep It Off the Field

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. (AP)

By Tuesday, 30 August 2016 10:11 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Colin Kaepernick, benched quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, has caused a firestorm and cast an unwarranted pall over the NFL and the 49ers brand by refusing to stand for the national anthem.

According to the latest Harris Poll, NFL football is America’s favorite sport.

Said Kaepernick: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Perhaps Mr. Kaepernick should instead play football for the Cuban Football League or the Venezuelan Football League (neither of which exists). I’m sure he could get the same money the 49ers pay him.

In 2014, Colin Kaepernick signed a six-year, $114-million contract, including a $12.3-million signing bonus, $61 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $19 million.

There are two issues here: First, regarding police injustice, Kaepernick doesn’t know what he’s talking about and seems to forget that this “racist” country elected a black president, twice.

According to Heather Mac Donald, author of “The War on Cops”:

  • Cops killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015
  • More whites and Hispanics die from police homicides than blacks
  • Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely than white officers to fire a gun at blacks
  • Blacks are more likely to kill cops than be killed by cops

Second, the 49ers organization has tolerated his political protest on its time and its dollar, and has damaged its brand.

Niners head coach Chip Kelly reacted thusly: “Kaepernick's decision not to stand during the national anthem is his right as a citizen. It's not my right to tell him not to do something."

Oh, but it is your right, Mr. Kelly.

While Colin Kaepernick has rights as a citizen to say almost anything he wants, he does not have the same rights as an employee. He used his employer’s stage to make a political statement. I’ll bet his contract forbids that. So far, the Niners have not punished or fired Colin Kaepernick. Rumors are, they were about to cut him. I’m suspecting political correctness at play here. You do the math.

Imagine an employee of a large American corporation staging an anti-abortion rally on the front lawn of corporate headquarters, with cameras rolling. Do you believe said corporation would merely look the other way?

The fans will turn, and already have turned, on the 49ers. And, they will boo Kaepernick in every appearance henceforth, smash him on social media, and stop buying his jersey. How is this good for business?

Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants, has sage counsel for Kaepernick: "You've got to stand up with your teammates. It's bigger than just you, in my opinion. I think you go up there, you’re with your team, and you pledge your allegiance to the flag and sing the national anthem with your team. And, then you go about your business, no matter what your beliefs are."


Consider this 49ers pass on Kaepernick’s behavior a major branding fumble that will invite more of the same from other players, in this and other sports. My advice to every CEO fearing similar crises: Never allow your employees to convert your business into forums for their causes, despite your politically correct urges.

And, to Jed York, owner of the 49ers: If you can’t take a stand, you don’t have a brand.

Marc Rudov is a branding adviser to CEOs, and is the author of "Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO's Guide to Branding." He is the founder of MarcRudov.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.






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The 49ers organization has tolerated Kaepernick's political protest on its time and its dollar, and has damaged its brand.
anthem, nfl, political, protest
Tuesday, 30 August 2016 10:11 AM
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