“He’s being singled out and not offered employment because of what he did,” said Richard Lapchick, the director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. “The first time he did it, I thought: This will be his last season.” The reason? “I felt I knew the political reality in the N.F.L.”
The political reality is this: The league consists of a largely conservative group of owners and, according to polls, a majority of fans who did not support Kaepernick’s actions. One poll suggested that some fans watched less football last season because of the anthem protest, which spread to a handful of other players, helping push down television ratings over all. Some fans, like Dave Ippolito, said they stopped watching football entirely last season.
Ippolito, a retiree who lives not far from Cincinnati and is a lifelong Giants fan, said he did not oppose Kaepernick expressing his views off the field. But by protesting on the field, he said, he dragged politics into the game.
“If you want to do stuff in your off hours, that’s fine, that’s your right as an American,” Ippolito said, adding: “It’s time to play football. It’s not time for politics.”
Ippolito’s views are far from universal. Some fans, in fact, applaud Kaepernick. Last month, he had the 17th best-selling jersey in the N.F.L.
Those who believe Kaepernick is being shunned point to the fact that about 20 other quarterbacks have been signed so far this off-season, including Mike Glennon, who received a three-year, $45 million contract from the Chicago Bears even though he threw only 11 passes the past two seasons; Josh McCown, who signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Jets even though he is 37 and played for the one-win Cleveland Browns last season; and Geno Smith, who received a $1.2 million, one-year contract from the Giants after a dismal showing with the Jets.
Some football analysts…