It is not completely by coincidence that Stephen Curry chose Week 1 of the NFL season to add his voice to the growing chorus in support of Colin Kaepernick. No, it was only after carefully evaluating the pros and cons of this debate did Curry let fly with his thoughts.
With a few words, Curry’s show of support was as a plain as it was powerful. The Warriors star, from his suite at the 49ers-Panthers game Sunday in Santa Clara, used his Instagram account to post a photo that included the hashtag #freekaep and also addressed the subject.
“He definitely should be in the NFL,” Curry told the Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer in a pregame interview. “If you’ve been around the NFL, the top 64 quarterbacks, and he’s not one of them? Then I don’t know what game I’m watching.
“Obviously his stance and his peaceful protest when he was playing here kind of shook up the world -- and I think for the better. But hopefully he gets back in the league -- because he deserves to be here and he deserves an opportunity to play. He’s in his prime and can make a team better.”
Curry makes absolute sense. Moreover, his words are bolstered by a preponderance of evidence that was visible to even the most undiscerning eye on Sunday, when several starting quarterbacks were seen spitting up all over themselves.
Exhibit A: Scott Tolzien of the Colts, who made the Rams look fabulous.
Exhibit B: Tom Savage of the Texans, who was atrocious enough to lose to a Jaguars team quarterbacked by Blake Bortles.
Exhibit C: Josh McCown of the New York Jets, who was predictably awful in losing to the Bills.
Exhibits D, E and F: Washington’s Kirk Cousins, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and the 49ers very own Brian Hoyer, each of whom strangled his team by tossing blatantly abysmal interceptions.
Because so many employed quarterbacks are well established as dreadful, there was good reason to expect staggeringly wretched performances. Some of this, we saw coming.
What we didn’t see coming was Curry diving in with reasonable analysis on a sports-related issue now fully entrenched in race and class and politics.
We had heard from NBA stars Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kyle Lowry, from retired players such as Steve Nash, Stephen Jackson and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. We’ve heard from baseball players, such as Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and Astros pitcher Collin McHugh. All of these players have waded into political discourse, delivering a “progressive” -- or humanitarian -- point of view.
We have seen and heard dozens of NFL players expressing support for Kaepernick -- and, more significant, his pursuit of equality, from Seahawks lineman Michael Bennett and Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch to Eagles lineman Chris Long and Browns receiver Sean DeValve.
And it’s not only a boy’s club. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe also has made it clear she is on board with the progress required for a fairer America.
Which is all well and good for these professional athletes. None, though, have greater potential for broad impact that Curry, if only because no sports figure in the country has greater crossover appeal.
Curry, 29, has become the All-American success story. He’s easy to identify with, failing before flourishing, overcoming a legion of doubters to become a transcendent athlete in a human-size physique. He’s married, with two kids, and his Christianity is never, ever in question. He goes out of his way to be not only accessible but also kind to strangers.
No athlete on the America landscape has better engaged young and old, black and white and all the colors in between, as well as liberal and conservative.
Curry told the Observer that he hopes Kaepernick’s protests in search of justice -- which thus far have cost him his place in the NFL -- “actually leads to some awakening.”
It has. More than ever, celebrities are getting a clearer view of the discrimination upon which America was built and continues to exist, limiting out national potential. Curry among those of us watching the NFL and seeing owners willing to sacrifice games for the sake of maintaining control, of keeping players in their place.
So having Curry stand up for Kaepernick’s cause is more than just another voice. It’s a safe voice that invites others who have been silent, perhaps feeling trapped by circumstances.
If you like Stephen Curry, and millions around the globe do, give him a minute. Absorb his words. Hear his plea. This is about Kaepernick, yes, but about a quest that means so much more.