By Dr. Herbert (H. J.) Harris

As we observe the recent apologies of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL (National Football League), it is important to note that professional sports, including the NFL, has long been afflicted with the paradigm of racism.

Below is an excerpt from “Solving The Race Issue In America” by H. J. Harris:


Very similar to baseball, the white Americans who control football spent years keeping black American athletes from playing. Even after football was finally integrated, for another 20 to 25 years black athletes were restricted to certain positions. The quarterback position, for example, was considered off-limits to black football players. Again the reason given by the white Americans who control football was that black players did not have the intellect to quarterback a football team.

Although black quarterbacks had been excelling with black college football teams, when these players came to the pros, they were encouraged to change their positions to anything but quarterback.

White Americans in power resist black Americans performing in any capacity where they are required to tell white people what to do. There is a core resistance in America to white Americans taking orders from black Americans. Having a black American quarterback tell white American players what to do contradicts the Paradigm of Slavery. (Excerpt from “Solving The Race Issue In America”  (

“Solving The Race Issue In America” by H. J. Harris (Courtesy Photos)

It was inspiring to have the NFL admit that the league got it wrong with respect to black football players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

It is very interesting to note that Commissioner Roger Goodell did not mention Colin Kaepernick’ s name in the league’s apology. Especially since Kaepernick was  the target of the league’s “getting it wrong.”

What about the emotional pain, or the financial and professional loss suffered by Colin Kaepernick as a result of the NFL’s “getting it wrong”?

The true test of the NFL’s sincerity is how it handles the professional and financial damage Colin Kaepernick may have suffered as a result of being unsigned by any NFL team for over three years.

Kaepernick tried to get justice when he filed a grievance in 2017 against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league. He withdrew the grievance in February 2019 after reaching a confidential settlement with the NFL.

Hopefully this confidential settlement is fair, just and acceptable to Kaepernick. If not, the NFL should make him whole. To offer Colin Kaepernick an opportunity to try out now for a quarterback position doesn’t really seem fair since the time off and his age may put him at a disadvantage.

What the NFL did to Kaepernick is another example of excessive, unjust punishments that professional sports organizations have inflicted upon black athletes. They take away the black athlete’s ability to play their sport and earn their income – usually at the prime of their careers.

Professional sports did it to Muhammad Ali in 1966 when he protested the Vietnam war. He was arrested, tried and unjustly convicted. Ali was stripped of his boxing titles and his boxing license was taken away.  Ali couldn’t fight for nearly four years until the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. He lost the peak years and potential earnings at the prime of his boxing career.

Jack Johnson, the first black heavy weight boxing champion, had over seven years stolen from him at the prime of his boxing career when he committed the “capital sin” – married a white woman in 1912. He had to leave the country to avoid jail. Johnson’s boxing career and earning potential was stolen at the peak of his career.

If the NFL is sincere about its apology – for getting it wrong – it should do more than offer Colin Kaepernick an opportunity to play quarterback again. He should be made whole and justly compensated for the NFL “getting it wrong.”

Let’s end this systemic racism. We can’t fix it for Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson, but Kaepernick is still standing strong.

Do the right thing NFL.

(Based on “Solving the Race Issue in America”: