Let’s take it all back to the very beginning. Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled.
Then more kneeled with him, and the topic became discussed among sports anchors, politically exhausted football fans (let’s be honest), and staunch flag defenders.
By the time the next season rolled around, Kaepernick wasn’t in the league and more knelt for him. The topic shifted to discussions between defenders of peaceful protest, who are right; and the people who feel they have the right to criticize a lazy, unproductive protest as disrespectful, who are also right.
Now insert Trump.
Trump stepped in, dropped a couple of bombs on stage, dropped a couple more on Twitter, and decided to blow it all up.
Now, the discussion on something we can all agree on, individual rights, has blown up to a countrywide issue. As the dust begins to settle on something we ultimately agree on, what issues are left?
The thing Kaepernick had an issue with all along, racial injustice.
The only way this protest gets to that point, where it’s a nationwide topic, and the nationwide consensus is that the conversation should be about racial injustice, is for Trump to make it a nationwide topic. Maybe this wasn’t his intent, no one knows for sure. It is, however, and should continue to be, the outcome.
Individually sitting or kneeling for the flag doesn’t, by itself, do anything for your message except bring attention to yourself and the type of protest. Uniting the players, as the Packers and Steelers did, can.
Trump’s attack on the NFL, in my opinion, was not only a defense of the flag. If you listen to all he says, it’s a push towards a unified protest to create actual change. Kaepernick’s protest didn’t do this. It didn’t have true goals, and it wasn’t supported or planed with anyone on his team, the league, or management. You may have noticed, but the first paragraph didn’t include a nationally vocal outcry to stop racial injustice. Now there is. If this protest gets the NFL involved in locally supporting their communities, the end may finally justify the means.