Back in 2013, Donald Trump was just a reality TV host and Colin Kaepernick was a rising star in the NFL and one of the athletes featured in a national ad campaign for Beats by Dre. Less than five years later, Trump is our commander-in-chief – and Kaepernick is a free agent without a team to call home, has no corporate sponsors, and is the latest target of the president’s ire.
On Sept. 22, Trump decided to move away from his ongoing feud with North Korea and embarked on a new campaign: getting the NFL to blacklist players like Kaepernick, who famously protested racial inequality and police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem last year. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners – when somebody disrespects our flag – to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now,'” Trump ranted at a public rally, adding, “Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”
The events that unfolded in the three days following the initial comment felt oddly displaced in time, a set of events that was rehashed by the president with seemingly only one goal in mind: to create drama. Trump continued to rage against Kaepernick, NFL officials and leaders, and even an NBA player (Steph Curry) as the weekend progressed, never once letting up or listening to reason. But what Trump appeared not to realize is that Kaepernick is a model of American resiliency – and that he had little to no chance of getting the public at large to join him in the fight.
Case in point: that 2013 Beats commercial. As quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick was depicted as using his headphones to block out the unwanted noise of angry, protesting Seattle Seahawks fans as he entered a stadium to play the team. The angry energy seems to roll right off his back as he walks with his head held high through the parking lot, completely ignoring the hate speech and random objects that are thrown in his direction. It’s an eerily prescient vision of the saga that Kaepernick has now found himself at the center of and a truly breathtaking thing to watch several years after it first aired.
What can we take away from all this? Kaepernick has never folded under the pressure of angry fans or detractors, and that’s something our president really ought to take a lesson from – and maybe, next time, he’ll pick his battles more wisely. Above, watch the ad in full – but remember to remind yourself that time is not, in fact, a flat circle . . . regardless of how much it may feel that way sometimes.