The San Francisco 49ers decided to participate in the on-going #BlackoutTuesday social media campaign meant to shine a light on social inequalities, but fans haven't forgotten the way the organization treated one of the movement's leading voices.
On Tuesday, the 49ers turned their profile picture black and tweeted out a black picture that was captioned: "Black Lives Matter #BlackoutTuesday."
This served the perfect lob for people to point out the team's hypocrisy. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick began his National Anthem protest as a member of the 49ers. In response, the 49ers and the NFL actively worked to discredit Kaepernick for making this political decision leading to him being blackballed from the league.
In 2018, reflecting on Kaepernick kneeling, 49ers CEO Jed York didn't believe Kap was being disrespectful. During an appearance on Freakonomics Radio's The Hidden Side of Sports, York said the organization didn't attempt to steer other NFL teams away from him.
"It's hard for me to see taking a knee—like, if you can come up with a community or society where taking a knee is a disrespectful act, like by all means show me. I feel like he tried to modify his position to be as respectful as possible during a very, very sacrosanct moment during a professional football game. And I think that the narrative sort of spun out of control. ... We had no negative conversations with other teams saying, 'Don't sign Colin.' We wouldn't do that with Colin. We wouldn't do that with anybody."
York also announced over the weekend that the 49ers will be donating $1 million to local and national organizations committed to social change to set an industry example.
Yet now that the murder of George Floyd—and the many deaths prior—have proved Kaepernick to be right, organizations want to show their support for the black community. Although people are demanding that their favorite celebrity, brands, and teams speak up, they are not going to be swayed by actions that appear to be convenient activism. As a result, NFL fans let the Niners know that they have a long memory.
As for Stephen Jackson—who was close friends with George Floyd, he took things a step further. When the NFL released a statement in support of the movement on Monday, Jackson was very blunt with his feelings towards it.
"That's so fake, man," Jackson told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears. "It's so fake, it's so fake, it's so fake."
He went on to say that the NFL needs to apologize to Kaepernick for the way it treated him and his protest.
"We know it's not real. We know it's not real. You're making yourself look bad. That's one of those situations where they shouldn't even say nothing, bro. They shouldn't even say nothing," Jackson continued. "If anything, they need to apologize to Kaepernick. If they're gonna respond on this type of stuff, start it off with an apology to Kaepernick. Then maybe we'll accept it."
The Washington Redskins were also called out for its Blackout Tuesday tweet, with many online calling for the team to change its name instead.
The team has long been criticized for its name, which has been deemed racist towards Native Americans. Here's how people, including Aleandria Ocasio-Cortez, reacted to the Redskins' hypocritical tweet.