Celebrities, corporations, and politicians have rushed in to preemptively absolve themselves of racism accusations by pandering to the Black Lives Matter movement’s narrative. Most recently, legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre’s interview with TMZ Sports demonstrated that any and all sense of decency, reality, and perspective has been abandoned for this narrative.
While discussing the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who became the pre-eminent “taking a knee” activist when he began kneeling during the national anthem at football games to protest racial injustice — Favre made a comparison so absurd and offensive that NFL medics should reconsider their policies regarding brain injuries. According to TMZ Sports, Favre “believes Kaepernick will go down as a legend for what he’s done to combat systemic racism.”
“It’s not easy for a guy his age — black or white, Hispanic, whatever — to stop something that you’ve always dreamed of doing, and put it on hold, maybe forever, for something that you believe in,” Favre said. “I can only think of — right off the top of my head — Pat Tillman is another guy that did something similar. And we regard him as a hero. So I’d assume that hero status will be stamped with Kaepernick as well.”
Pat Tillman was a NFL player who turned down a multimillion-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 to enlist in the U.S. Army in the aftermath of 9/11. Tillman joined the Army Rangers and served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. On April 22, 2004, Tillman was killed in the line of duty. Tillman is an American hero who sacrificed both his sporting career and his life in service of his country.
Conversely, Kaepernick is a former NFL player whose activism began from the bench as his career declined, resulting in him going unsigned as a free agent.
“To blame Kaepernick’s unemployment on his protest is to misread the way NFL teams make personnel decisions,” said Kevin Seifert, an NFL writer for ESPN. “Teams are swayed first by a player’s potential (or lack thereof) to help them win. Protest or not, Kaepernick would be under contract now if he had played demonstrably better in recent years.”
Despite his waning abilities as a quarterback and inflammatory acts of protest, including wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs, Kaepernick has benefited from the profitable business of professional activism, netting an endorsement deal with Nike with the infamous phrase “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”
Tillman believed in something and sacrificed everything. Kaepernick believes in something, but has sacrificed little to nothing. Indeed, the only things Kaepernick has sacrificed are the repeated opportunities the NFL gavee him to reignite his career, despite his average performance as a player. Why, when offered a private training session in 2019, did Kaepernick decide not to attend? Perhaps because the theory of victimhood is more powerful than the reality of sporting inability.
The issue here is not Kaepernick’s right to protest, his methods of protest, or even his petulant demand to play in the NFL while making it clear he prefers to remain an activist. The issue is the disrespect to Tillman’s memory by likening his sacrifice to Kaepernick’s pursuit of fame and financial success.
To compare Tillman’s ultimate heroism to Kaepernick’s lucrative activism is as absurd as comparing Favre’s prowess on the football field to Kaepernick’s average career. Tillman gave his life for his beliefs. Kaepernick has become a millionaire for his. Tillman is a hero. Kaepernick is not.