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The NFL still says Kaepernick isn’t being blackballed; here’s why they’re wrong

Earl O. Hutchinson | 9/7/2017, 6 a.m.

In the weeks since the NFL camps opened officially, rumors about Kap signing with this or that team have abounded. In each case, they ignite the inevitable brief flurry of chatter and speculation that Kap could finally find an NFL home. But in each case, the talk quickly fizzles, once there is no invitation for a tryout, let alone a signing.

The owners and team managers are right, though, in one respect. Kap’s absence from the league isn’t due to any conspiracy or because the NFL inherently is racist. NFL watchers can argue that with all those big-name, big-money (including, at one-time, Kap himself) black players in the league, you can’t accuse it of being racist because Kap isn’t playing.

Rather, the answer lies in the NFL’s structure. It operates not as a democracy, but as a top-down organization run by an entrenched and elite corps of billionaire owners who set league tone and policy.

The NFL power brokers have the authority to enforce their take it-or-leave-it imperium on the players, fans and politicians. They don’t have to huddle behind closed doors and decide to keep Kap out of the NFL. It’s simply understood, a gentleman’s agreement if you will, that he’s not a fit for their league. This has nothing to do with on-the-field needs, and everything to do with the point that it is their league.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.