The Specter of Colin Kaepernick Hung Over Superbowl 53

Maddogg Guest writer from OMIG, T.H. Johnson

Something tells us that despite the effort Superbowl 53 wasn’t one of the NFL’s most stellar events in Superbowl history considering that it was in a noted party city; Atlanta. The specter of mediocrity appeared to be pervasive and hang over the event the day-after like a funeral pall, with public relations organizations hard at work, including Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, feverishly attempting to paint lipstick on a pig; and a pig the night before’s event was.

Considering how hard the organizers struggled to get A-list performers to do the half-time show, their continuous rejections became the negative publicity that threw the rhythm off. No doubt that Colin Kaepernick was the reason why, and the thought of his public mistreatment undoubtedly hung over the potential of the event’s success. Like an old RPM phonograph winding down with the music going in slow motion is what it seemed like even with all of the pyrotechnics going off around Adam Levine and Maroon 5 when they took the stage Sunday night. Once again, the specter of Colin Kaepernick appeared to be the unseen anchor dragging it down. Levine and Maroon 5 tried to do their best but unfortunately their performance would be panned on Monday as being lackluster, for their sake they were placed in a tough position. Cardi B, whose star arguably shines the brightest presently, and her managers had enough sense to politically side step the NFL debacle, and then the sexxy diva gained public relations mileage on Monday’s Good Morning America by invoking Kaepernick’s name and treatment as the reason for rejecting the NFL’s invitation.

Thus, the NFL was left with hyping second string performers and quasi-old playas’. Of course Atlanta’s own Big Boi should have been on the bill to represent the host city under normal circumstances, he and Andre 3,000 helped do their part to put Atlanta on the map. However, the manner in which he was presented made it look like they just drove by his neighborhood hang-out and coaxed him to come along. His out of tune performance seemed to mirror the image of someone just being offered a beer to take the stage. Again, it appeared that the specter of Colin Kaepernick was hanging over the stage.

All of the elaborate orchestration and musical arrangement of horns and strings behind Gladys Knight didn’t help her National Anthem performance either. Monday’s headlines — Gladys Knight nails potent national anthem at Super Bowl LIII —was not true and nothing more than phony PR fluff. Her appearance only appeared to place a light coating over the main controversy that NFL owners have foolishly failed to address centering around the reason for Colin Kaepernick taking a knee. It is the use of excessive force and the unprofessional conduct of police officers across the nation killing unarmed black men over petty misdemeanors.

So Gladys for some demented reason decided to take the 100-to-1 gamble of winding up with her image even from jump street being trashed, and making her look like she was playing Aunt Jemima to the NFL.

That was a strong indication that she was easily accessible where they probably got her number at home and called her, without her talking to her advisers. What in the past would have been publicists to guard the integrity of her public image Gladys appeared to take the dive all on her own.

Travis Scott seemed to be positioned the same way, and allegedly got caught lying about Colin Keapernick giving him his blessing. Kaepernick’s Girlfriend and radio personality, Nessa Diab, publicly refuted Scott’s allegation and in a blistering manner called Scott a liar.

It all seemed like back peddling in an attempt to plug a massive hole that Diab had now blown in the NFL dike. So what are we to then make of Travis Scott allegedly giving money to some non-profit agency in a peace offering? “To counter criticism” according to a newspaper article, “Scott announced that in partnership with the NFL, he will make a $500,000 donation to the nonprofit organization Dream Corps, among “other initiatives that he will work with the League on.” 

Our black folks too often fail to understand the importance of symbolism when it comes to maintaining integrity. When do injuries to your persona become irrevocable and not for sale to be bartered away by a ham being tossed out the window to assuage the injury, which is all they think they have to do. To the degree that you facilitate their ambivalence to respecting your dignity you contribute to your own denigration. Thus, the appearance of Scott soon became that of a Stepin Fetchit that may have made him look as bad, if not worse, with his hand held out begging the NFL than Gladys Knight. Certainly, these images of themselves were avoidable in their perceived betrayal of the main line, which is “Kaepernick must again be made whole” that is what we who no longer watch the NFL say . Whatever he’s lost by artificially being made to sit outside of the NFL must be given to him in treble damages instead of continuing to cover up the problems that Kaepernick has pointed out.

Whether Kaepernick articulates it or not what he is doing is sending the ultimate message that taking the lives of American citizens, regardless of race, creed or color, over petty misdemeanors is wrong and that it undermines the public trust while dangerously impacting the social contract that any civilized society grants to the state. All inherent powers are given to the state under oath that in return they are to protect and serve all of its citizens under the law equally. As it relates to blacks in this country law enforcement has continued to miserably fail.

Whether it is Philando Castile, Eric Gardner, Terrence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Walter Scott and so many others whose lives have been willfully taken by police abusively acting under the color of authority, they will not be forgotten and neither will the heroic stand that Colin Kaepernick has taken to highlight these excesses. What won’t be forgotten is the cowardly position taken by the NFL in its attempt to paint lipstick on its own piggish conduct while ignoring something the owners should have spoken out on long ago. I don’t know how many others besides myself no longer watch the NFL as a result of their conduct but my suspicion is that it is quite a bit more significant than just me. It will be that way until this matter concerning excessive conduct and the fair treatment of Colin Kaepernick has been satisfied to all of our satisfaction. I miss flying out of the below zero cold in the Midwest each year to spend the Superbowl weekend with my brother in the warm sunshine of Los Angeles, which that city celebrates like a national holiday at Superbowl time. Hopefully, someday we will all get back there.


T.H. Johnson is an author, documentary producer, and member of the crack investigative team of OMIG (Ocean Medical Investigative Group) which has continued to uncover the evidence in the infamous OJ Simpson case of 1994-95 indicating how he was framed.

T.H. Johnson Books available through Amazon Books
The Documentary on Amazon Prime

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