It did not take long for the NFL to wade into controversial waters on Super Bowl Sunday. Early in the evening, the NFL showed a montage of images featuring Martin Luther King Jr., in an effort to celebrate civil rights heroes of the past.
However, the NFL’s efforts did not sit well with supporters of unemployed anthem protester Colin Kaepernick. Who believe the NFL hypocritically lauds civil rights heroes of the past, while blacklisting someone they see as a social justice hero of the present.
After the montage featuring King, the NFL welcomed the late reverend’s youngest daughter Bernice, along with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and activist Andrew Young, for the coin toss.
A significant moment. My mission is #JusticeForAll. Humanity is turning the tide and our efforts must include bridge builders, strategic negotiators and ambassadors. #SuperBowl #Atlanta #BuildTheWill #MLK90 pic.twitter.com/TrLfsmzlfX
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) February 3, 2019
Kaepernick began his anthem protest in the preseason of 2016. However, after that season, the former 49er walked away from his contract with San Francisco. Kaepernick was not re-signed by another club and remains unemployed by the league. In October of 2017, Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL. Alleging that the league’s owners conspired to keep him off a roster due to his anthem protests.
With Kaepernick’s unemployment and grievance case in mind, it didn’t take Twitter users long to pounce on the what they perceived to be, the NFL’s obvious hypocrisy:
Oh the absolute fucking disrespect of the NFL using a voiceover of MLK Jr. and trotting out his daughter and John Lewis while blackballing Kaepernick. Come on. What the hell was that?
— Zito (@_Zeets) February 3, 2019
I am dumbfounded. Dumbfounded. MLK’s voice and words and images, in an NFL ad. The fucking audacity just kills me.
— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) February 3, 2019
— Sacramento KING (@IamKDiddy) February 3, 2019
How you gonna have an MLK callout for a league which has blackballed a player for protesting police oppression?
— Craig Newman (@craignewman) February 3, 2019
I’m not sure that “MLK would love the Super Bowl!!!!” is the best of all possible pivots here
— Sady Doyle (@sadydoyle) February 3, 2019
If Kaepernick is not signed before next season, it will mark the third consecutive year where the former 49er will enter a regular season unsigned.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn