Colin Kaepernick started all this. And he can finish it too, but he needs a little help to get this movement – the one he created back in 2016 when he sat out the national anthem in protest of police brutality – over the goal line.
He should meet with President Trump.
In return for his seemingly blatant disregard for the United States and the national anthem, (un)lucky #7 Kaepernick claims to have been blacklisted from the NFL. In truth, it’s hard for me to see why any team would want to get within 100 yards of him and exacerbate the already-terrible PR that’s hit the NFL in the last 24 months.
I know there are many challenging, heartfelt and legitimate issues facing our country today. These issues need to be discussed, debated and solved. Often times, protesting is the only way to bring them to the surface, and for that, I am thankful.
But I'm also thankful that we live in a country that affords us the absolute freedom to peacefully protest any of these issues - even the most difficult and seemingly divisive ones. And our national anthem is our means to celebrate this – a time to stand together, shoulder to shoulder with hands on our hearts, honoring the flag of a country that more than 1.1 million American soldiers have sacrificed their lives for in order to secure, protect and defend that very freedom that we enjoy every day.
Despite our drastic differences, we’re all on the same team. We’re all in this together. And the teams that can’t navigate their differences, those are the ones that have losing seasons year after year. But the great teams? The championship teams? They figure it out. They. Always. Figure. It. Out.
That is why I will never advocate for a protest during the national anthem. Simply put, it's country before self – even when the country isn't exactly where it should be. Our charge as Americans is to get there together and we should start by respecting and honoring the one thing that allows us to go on that journey.
That said, choosing to ignore a message simply because you don’t like the messenger or agree with his style of delivery is to choose to remain ignorant on an issue. So while I deplore the method in which Colin Kaepernick chooses to protest, I want (and need) to understand his position and opinions.
I’ve spent my entire adult life talking about how athletes - and the skills athletes possess - represent the greatest of what’s possible with the human potential - in both life and business. Athletes are incredibly hard working, dedicated, disciplined and have the desire to be a champion in everything they do. These qualities are certainly essential to a successful life and, in business, there are no better skills required when wanting to hire the best talent available.
Athletes also know the value of their teammates - that no goal can be achieved without leaning on each other. I’ve been in hundreds of locker rooms and board rooms, and I can tell you that not one of them had a room full of people that agreed on everything. I’ve witnessed more than a few verbal (and physical) battles over the years on both sides. They were brutal! But we all had one thing in common – the insatiable desire to be the best team imaginable.
This is why sports brings us together like nothing else and why athletes have the unique ability to bring people together from all walks of life. We aspire to be like them – to better our best, to improve ourselves daily and to chase perfection.
And this is analogous to our country, its citizens and our anthem. Coming together for a common purpose, despite our differences.
Which is why a meeting between two such incredibly polarizing adults – one an out-of-work NFL quarterback in the driving seat of a nationwide protest, the other the 45th president of the United States – could be such an incredible opportunity to help unify the country.
President Trump and Colin Kaepernick need to do one thing: sit down and talk.
They need to show the other side the respect it deserves and hear it out. They need to listen to each other fervently, not as a means to form a response but to intimately understand.
Because you see, despite our drastic differences, we’re all on the same team. We’re all in this together. And the teams that can’t navigate their differences, those are the ones that have losing seasons year after year. But the great teams? The championship teams? They figure it out. They. Always. Figure. It. Out.
So, I call for a meeting of teammates – number 7 and number 45. You must meet.