August 31, 2017 

By Lauren A. Jones 

Contributing Writer 


The NFL Network honored three of their analysts who were newly inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Kurt Warner, LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis, at the Hall of Fame Heroes event in Santa Monica, California. The three Hall of Famers were joined by Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk to discuss their recent induction and the upcoming NFL season.


“It is the hardest team to become a member of and once you’re on it, you are on it for life,” said NFL analyst and Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk.


All of which have left an indelible mark on the game of football through their professional contributions both on and off the field.


“Legacy is so much left up to other people, but I hope at the end of the day when it’s all said and done my legacy is first about the person that I am and the impact that I’ve had and second the player that I was,” remarked recent inductee Kurt Warner.


As part of the panel discussion the Hall of Famers were prompted to make predictions about the upcoming season. One of the most dominant storylines regarding this upcoming season has been the controversy surrounding former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 


Recently the NFL has come under scrutiny based on perceived retaliation against Kaepernick for his political stance to kneel during the National Anthem last season.


“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL reporter Steve Wyche. “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."


It is this gesture that has seemingly left the quarterback who once led his team to a Super Bowl appearance rendered jobless.


“Kaepernick is obviously good enough to play in the National Football League,” said Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson. “If you think about it, there are about 70 quarterbacks in the NFL every year and he’s definitely one of the top 70.” 


There now lies a divide between those who believe Kaepernick deserves to use his platform to share his thoughts openly and those on the opposing side who think there is no place for that in the NFL. It has sparked protests at the NFL headquarters in New York led by film director Spike Lee and at the NFL Network offices in Culver City, in an attempt to pressure one of the 32 NFL teams to offer the unsigned free agent a roster spot.


These Hall of Famers are of the opinion that professional athletes should be allowed freedom of expression and it should never interfere with their ability to play.


“We are blessed to have this platform,” said Tomlinson. “It should be our duty to speak on certain issues that improve our country and improve our community.”


Michael Irvin added, “I believe Colin should have a job, but it should not take attention away from what Colin was kneeling about, the inequity and treatment of people of color.”


Inequities that have since come to a helm with the recent travesty that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia during a white supremacist rally that left one woman dead and 19 injured.


“It’s a sore spot for America as a whole, but I’m from the south so it doesn’t surprise me,” said Faulk. “It surprised a lot of people who think that racism is dead and doesn’t exist, but it exists, it’s here and it’s disguised in many ways.”


The Charlottesville occurrence led to the first white player kneeling during the anthem. In the Cleveland Browns vs New York Giants preseason game, Seth DeValve, a tight end for the Cleveland Browns, knelt alongside 11 of his black teammates. DeValve is married to a black woman.


“It’s very important in a football locker room we talk about brotherhood, we’re all family,” said Tomlinson. “It’s all about faith, family and football. If that’s the case, we need our white brothers to support our causes and vice versa.”


Several players have since joined Kaepernick’s protest by kneeling for the anthem including Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett.


“I applaud the man for what he’s doing and what’s he’s done,” said Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis. “Unfortunately I think it’s cost him his career.”


Whether Kaepernick ends up suiting up for an NFL team this season remains to be seen, but he has not relented on the cause to which he wanted to bring awareness. If nothing else, Kaepernick’s bold move has people talking and he is steadfast in not only talking about the issues of injustice to marginalized communities but putting his money where his mouth is. In 2016, Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million to different organizations working in oppressed communities. He has since made good on his promise donating $100,000 for 10 months to 10 different organizations. He has also donated to groups like Meals on Wheels, Black Veterans for Social Justice, Center for Reproductive Rights and SilenceisViolence.


The accomplishments of Warner, Tomlinson and Davis on the field have solidified their place in football immortality with the class of 2017 NFL Hall of Fame players. For Kaepernick, whether it is fame or notoriety, his stance will be etched into NFL history.

Category: Sports