The Colin Kaepernick saga is becoming a much bigger than a tale about the quarterback fighting a collusion lawsuit against the NFL for keeping him out of the league.
It is becoming a look at how America is changing and becoming more diverse and open-minded.
Kaepernick won a round in his fight with the NFL last week when an arbitrator rejected the league’s bid to throw out the suit, which means there will be a hearing — a trial-like procedure where NFL owners and executives will be required to testify.
But there were actually other developments that show that Kaepernick will be remembered for sacrificing his career for the cause of social justice.
On Friday night, Kaepernick and linebacker Eric Reid, who’s also being banned, attended the U.S, Open match between the Williams sisters.
Kaepernick and Reid got an ovation when they were shown on the big screen, demonstrating how popular their stand has become with tennis fans.
Afterwards, Serena Williams saluted Kaepernick and Reid.
“I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African-American should be completely grateful for how Colin and Eric are doing so much for the greater good, so to say,’’ Serena said. “They really use their platform in ways that are really unfathomable. I feel like they obviously have great respect from a lot of their peers, especially athletes, people that really are looking for social change.’’
That was followed by the announcement that Nike is building a new ad campaign around Kaepernick for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign, and Kaepernick will have his own line of apparel. Nike had kept him on the payroll the last year and decided this was the time to feature him.
The powerful message is “Believe in something, Even if it means sacrificing everything.’’
When a company that designs the NFL uniforms sides with Kaepernick, it is easy to tell which way the wind is blowing.
It wasn’t even a bold move. Nike executives understand what is happening in America.
Vice News pointed out recently that the 40-year-old angry white men who are against Kaepernick don’t tend to buy Nike shoes.
It is now obvious that it doesn’t matter whether Kaepernick wins or loses his collusion case.
He’s on the right side of history. He will be remembered as a civil-rights hero, while many of today’s quarterbacks will be forgotten. And the NFL owners will look small-minded and petty.
If you doubt that, look how America has changed over the centuries. Many of the founding fathers owned slaves and counted them as three-fifths of a person for census purposes. It took the Civil War to right that wrong. Then came along Jim Crow, which the Supreme Court ruled was legal. How does that decision look today?
It took decades more and the civil rights laws of the 1960s to right that wrong.
Eventually, Kaepernick will be celebrated for his actions. Time is on his side.
Of course, Kaepernick will pay a big price for his activism. He is now entering his second season without being on an NFL roster. Even if he somehow gets on a roster next year, a two-year layoff would be hard to overcome. Most likely, he will never be on an NFL roster again.
His critics keep saying he is disrespecting the flag and the national anthem, when he and his fellow protesters are actually protesting police violence against young black men. Or they say he simply isn’t good, even though he took a team to the Super Bowl.
And Donald Trump, of course, bashed Nike for sending a “terrible message.’’
But Trump also added, “In another way, this is what the country is all about — that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do. But I am personally on the other side of it.”
That didn’t sound like Trump. And the NFL didn’t mention Nike or the collusion case, but said in a bland statement that the issue Kaepernick and other athletes have raised “deserve our attention and action.’’
Then why don’t they hire him?
Years from now, people will find it hard to believe no team would hire him because of his protest.
And it will be hard to believe the NFL would keep him out.
History is now on his side.