Former Ravens quarterback and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer had one of the more polarizing takes on Colin Kaepernick’s now-famous decision not to stand for the National Anthem. Dilfer said because Kaepernick is the 49ers’ backup quarterback, he should not have drawn attention to himself. Instead, he should have focused on his job—getting the starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, ready to play.
“Although I respect what he’s doing, and I respect the passion and burden he has for this issue, a massive issue, I do not respect the fact that he put himself and his stance above his team, because he’s not the only one that’s passionate about big social issues,” Dilfer said.
Naturally, a lot of people disagreed with Dilfer and felt Kaepernick was right to stage a protest, no matter how it would impact his team. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe weighed in on Dilfer’s take on their new show, Undisputed.
Bayless, who has been extremely public in his defense of Kaepernick, made an especially strong case against Dilfer.
“That was typical, old-school quarterback mentality…that was so typical. Dispassionate. Disconnected to the point of being clueless. Sort of ex-white quarterback mentality. This is how you do it. You should be thankful and you should be honored to be in the NFL quarterback fraternity. So if you’re a starter, you can speak out a little more. But if you’re a backup, to use your line again, and it’s my favorite line, you are to be seen and not heard. You are to prepare for the game and be ready to play in case of. And you are to remain in the shadows so as not to distract or disturb or wreck your team unity…obviously, I’m not black. But this is one thing I do know after years and years of working with a lot of black players and black commentators on many networks: That if you go to the place of you’re telling a black man, or a black woman, that ‘You should know your place and stay in it,’ when you get to there, them’s fighting words. That smacks of plantation mentality. You cannot go there—and he went there. Because no matter what you’re trying to say in the football context, we’re not in the football context any more. We have risen above it to an issue that is far more important than any football game.”
While Bayless is known for saying anything to get a rise out of people and grab headlines, this was an unusually articulate, thought-out response. Credit to Skip.
It's unlikely we'll see Dilfer respond. ESPN PR will probably tell him to drop the topic.
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