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The Kaepernick Enigma

Our long national nightmare was almost over. Word came down last week that the NFL was going to hold a workout for former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick on behalf of teams that were “interested” in employing him. Kaep has been unemployed since opting out of his 49ers contract in March 2017. For some reason, other NFL teams were not interested in employing a quarterback who had led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and several other playoff berths. Kaep couldn’t even get a back-up QB job, while NFL teams continue to employ the likes of Robert Griffin, Brian Hoyer, Matt Moore, Josh McCown, Colt McCoy, and Blake Bortles on rosters despite lengthy resumes of failure.

So finally action was being taken to potentially return Kaepernick to an NFL roster. Or was it? As we’ve all heard by now, issues arose between the NFL and Kaepernick over a waiver and other issues. The NFL workout in Atlanta was cancelled by Kaep and he instead went forward with his own public workout at a high school. The media has been severely divided over this situation. Some have argued that Kaep should have gone forward with the workout despite the issues that arose, while others say the NFL workout was a sham and Kaep was right to refuse to do it. So what happened and who is at fault over this situation?

To understand, we have to start back in 2016.  At the time, there had been a number of deaths of innocent people of color caused by law enforcement sparking the Black Lives matter movement.  During the NFL’s 2016 preseason, 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting during the national anthem because he did not want to show pride for this country’s flag while African-Americans were being murdered by the police and getting away with it.  Kaep’s action sparked outrage even when he switched to kneeling during the anthem at the suggestion of former NFL player and military veteran Nate Boyer as a way to pay respect to veterans while still protesting the social injustices that were occurring.  A few teammates and other players began joining Kaep’s kneeling protest though.  To demonstrate his devotion to his cause, Kaepernick donated a million dollars to organizations working in oppressed communities and started the Know Your Rights Camp to teach disadvantaged youth about the history of social injustice, people’s rights, and self-empowerment.

Photo by Mike Morbeck pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

After the end of the 2016 football season, Kaepernick and the 49ers parted ways.  Despite being in his prime and being a quarterback with a history of success, no other NFL team signed Kaepernick.  This was particularly curious given the rise of similar mobile quarterbacks likes Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Lamar Jackson.  Clearly, Kaepernick was better than at least 50% of the quarterbacks with jobs in the NFL, but NFL owners were refusing to employ him because he was a vocal opponent of police-caused deaths of African-Americans.  NFL owners were cowed by some outcry–spurred on in no small part by incessant anti-Kaepernick tweets by the president–over a non-violent protest.

When it became clear that he was being blackballed by the NFL, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league in October 2017, accusing the owners of collusion in refusing to even work him out, much less sign him.  That grievance was settled earlier this year.  Because of a confidentiality clause in the agreement, the details of the settlement have not been disclosed.  Without seeing the agreement though, I can tell you that the agreement surely contained two specific clauses.  One, the settlement only covered the NFL’s collusive actions up to the date of the settlement.  And two, the NFL would not prevent any team from working out and signing Kaepernick to a contract thereafter.

So what has happened since the settlement was reached last February?  A fat lot of nothing, that’s what.  No team has brought Kaepernick in for a workout, despite a number of serious quarterback injuries that have occurred this season.  Not.  One.  Team.  You can be sure that word has filtered from Kaep’s camp to Roger Goodell that the collusion to keep him out of the league had continued and Kaepernick was considering a new grievance for the post-settlement collusion.  So if you did not understand why the NFL suddenly offered a workout to Colin Kaepernick last week, now you know why.

As soon as word about the possible workout got out, the NFL PR machine went into high gear.  There were stories about how a number of teams were interested in him, but wanted the cover of an NFL workout, instead of a team workout, to gauge whether Kaepernick was in shape.  There were stories about every NFL team being invited to the workout and that 25 teams were planning to send representatives and that the NFL would video the workout and send it to all 32 teams.  There were even stories that the NFL wanted Kaepernick back in the league.

As we now know, the planned “workout” fell through and Kaepernick ended up doing his own workout at a high school.  The NFL PR machine continued to try to steamroll the narrative.  Word was that Kaep was not truly serious about returning to the NFL, he wouldn’t sign a standard workout waiver, was more interested in making a political statement (apparently because he wore a Kunta Kinte t-shirt to the workout but not during the workout), and he was trying to set up the NFL for another grievance.  Let’s examine the known facts that have come out since last week’s workout fiasco:

  1.  Kaepernick was not told about a possible workout until the Tuesday prior to the planned Saturday workout.  He asked for additional time and the NFL refused.
  2. The workout was planned for a Saturday despite in-seasons workouts by teams being universally held on Tuesdays.  That’s because teams are deep into Sunday game preparations on Saturdays and don’t want other Saturday distractions.  That meant that any team personnel who would show up to Kaep’s workout would be far down the authority list.
  3. Kaepernick asked for a list of the personnel who he would be working out with in advance of the workout.  The NFL refused to provide the list.
  4. Kaepernick asked to be allowed to film the workout himself because he was worried that the NFL would edit their video of the workout in a way where he would not look good.  The NFL not only refused this request, but threw a major corporate sponsor, Nike, under the bus by saying that Kaep’s video of the workout would be used for a Nike commercial.  Nike demanded that the NFL retract that statement as completely false.
  5. After the request to film the workout himself was denied, Kaep asked that the media be allowed to watch the workout so that his readiness to play could be fairly reported.  This too was denied.
  6. The “standard” workout waiver turned out not to be standard after all and included new clauses with enough ambiguity in them that, if Kaepernick were to sign the waiver, he might be prevented from bringing a future grievance or lawsuit against the NFL.  As one of Kaepernick’s lawyers put it, it would have been malpractice for him to advise Kaep to sign the waiver.  Kaep’s lawyers revised the waiver to account for their concerns, but the NFL refused the modifications.

Put yourself in Kaepernick’s shoes for a moment.  Everything about this situation screams “SHAM!”  It looks like the NFL is trying to trick you into signing away your rights to come after them for their continued collusion against you.  Do you, as some members of the sports media have suggested, go ahead and sign the waiver and hope that some team signs you?  Or do you refuse to sign the waiver and put on your own workout instead.  I know what I would do and that’s exactly what Kaep did.  At his own workout, the press was invited, as well as the representatives of any NFL team.  As a result, we all got to see the film of the workout on Saturday, which showed that Kaep is both in shape and still has a strong arm.

So what happens now?  Unless one or more NFL teams step up and bring in Kaepernick for their own workouts and one of them finally signs him, it appears inevitable that Kaep will bring another grievance or lawsuit against the NFL for continuing collusion.  For whatever reason, NFL owners seem more concerned over the backlash that might result from signing a player who had the audacity to kneel during the national anthem than they are over a backlash for employing domestic abusers, rapists, drug users, and even players convicted of manslaughter (Leonard Little & Donte Stallworth, look it up).  You can’t make this stuff up.  The NFL continues to lose my respect.

Classic Psrhea: Not Ready For Prime Time

A reprint from the groundbreaking Psrhea Magazine literary website.
This article saw first published in April 1997.

Not Ready For
Prime Time

Makes Me Wanna Hollar
by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Have you ever watched premium cable television in the wee hours of the morning – that time of the day when most sane people are either asleep or burning the candle on both ends while still out partying? The 1:00 AM – 6:00 AM range on cable is usually reserved for those B-movie straight-to-video schlock flicks with loads of blood flying, body bags and skin slapping featuring second- and third-rate “stars” such as Shannon Tweed, Andrew Stevens, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Corey Haim, and Shannon Whirry. Every now and then, however, the premium cable channels will broadcast a rare underground movie or cult independent film that has received a modicum of critical acclaim but is deemed to not have the drawing power to sustain an audience through a prime viewing spot.

Early one weekday morning recently I was channel-surfing through the four main premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and The Movie Channel). On three of them was the aforementioned “schlock flicks” with no limits on the blood flying, bodies slapping and sweat slinging. On one of them, though, was a three-year-old independent film called “Bar Girls.” The film was an offbeat drama with a virtually all-women cast that examined the topsy-turvy romances that befell gay female denizens of a local lesbian tavern. While the movie was not as raunchy and in-your-face as would be expected at that time of day, it did take a moderately no-holds-barred look at emotional, mental, spiritual, and – dare I say it – physical concerns and anxieties of its gay female subjects. The characters held nothing back in their dialogue and there quite a few intimate scenes between women.
Lesbian angst.

I had heard about “Bar Girls” when it was first released in 1994. Needless to say, because it was a small independent film with no major distributor, the film was distributed in limited release to small art-house theaters. But it opened to generally good reviews; I had not recalled any film critic disliking the film. So having a familiarity with the film, I decided to delay going to work and watch.

It was while watching one of “Bar Girls” all-female love scenes that I realized why this film had been relegated to the early-morning hours. Despite how well this movie was made, the perceived “delicate nature” of the subject matter made it “unsuitable” for mass consumption during a time when a majority of the populace may have had access to it. This puritan society is simply not ready to deal with the affairs, interests, and concerns of a subsection of the population which the mainstream, while outwardly giving lip service to their own open-mindedness, considers morally corrupt. Ellen DeGeneres notwithstanding, as long as this traditional society and its institutions don’t have to acknowledge that homosexuals have values, customs, beliefs and rights that are just as worthy of exercising as anybody else’s, then keeping homosexuality “out of sight and out of mind” becomes instinctive to the greater society.

In essence, what I’m saying is that broadcasting “Bar Girls” at a time when it is virtually guaranteed to draw the fewest viewers is a form of keeping it “in the closet…”


The city of Huntington Beach, California, is proud of its record as a place that is free of the problem of homelessness. The city government never ceases to make the claim that there are no homeless “people” aimlessly wandering the streets and that the city, ever so clean and spotless, has not needed to address a problem that in this community does not exist. A town like Huntington Beach, in the middle of the urban problems that plague surrounding southern California, is nothing short of miraculous.

Or surreal, when you consider what’s going on there. What is left unsaid here is an implied yet very well hidden policy which is practiced by the Huntington Beach Police. It seems that when a police officer happens upon a homeless person within the city limits, said person is picked up and transported to the city of Costa Mesa on the southeast border of Huntington Beach and dropped off.

Costa Mesa is known around southern California as having a somewhat more serious homeless problem than its neighbors. Now we know why.

This program of denial allows Huntington Beach to make the unsubstantiated claim that it does. You see, they’ve found a simple way of pushing the problem out of people’s consciousness – get rid of it and make it somebody else’s problem. Somehow I have to believe that the city government knows – and probably quietly signed off on it. The police couldn’t have come up with this idea on their own – as we’ve seen, southern California cops just aren’t that clever.

So no, I guess there is no homeless “problem” in Huntington Beach, but there sure as hell is a problem with the “solution”…


The Invisible Man is neither a movie creation nor Claude Rains. He was first publicly revealed through Ralph Ellison’s now-famous novel. He most recently was among the 600,000+ other obviously-invisible men that the Washington, DC Park Services failed to count during the Million-Man March.

Copyright 1996 Accurate Letters Enterprises/Psrhea Magazine

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Classic Psrhea: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind


This is the first in a series of reprints from the groundbreaking Psrhea Magazine literary website. This article saw first published in August 1996.

Out Of Sight,
Out Of Mind

Makes Me Wanna Hollar
by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

I was sitting outside the television station where I work, under a tree trying to shade myself from an oppressive early spring heatwave one afternoon. Cooling off on the lawn near the side door of the station, I noticed two co-workers walk out having a very quiet conversation. Both of them white, one female, they stole a quick glance at me and continued their conversation, oblivious to my presence. I could overhear them talking about an upcoming studio production they were planning, and the conversation turned to who they were considering getting to direct.

After bantering about a few names they would ask, my name was mentioned by the male. The female replied to her co-producer, “I think we can ask *&^%$#@ now if he’ll do it. I seem to recall seeing him here somewhere.” She and her partner then proceeded to glance around for me, remembering that I was outside the building yet not remembering where they had seen me just a few short moments before, and absolutely unconscious of the fact that I was right under they’re noses.

I waited a few precious seconds, while they just totally overlooked my plane of existence, before I spoke up. Taken aback by my sudden appearance, the male exclaimed, “Oh, *&^%$#@, there you are.”

Hide in plain sight – I am The Invisible Man

…But I didn’t just get this way because of a lab experiment gone awry. I’ve been this way all of my life. I just wasn’t acknowledged until Ralph Ellison discovered me and gave countless others like me a life. I call it Invisible Man Syndrome – IMS for short. It is an affliction particularly characteristic to North America…

…You know us, the ones brought here centuries ago against our will, then cast aside as so much rubbish when we demanded recognition as human beings, with the right to participate in this society just like anybody else. Well, that is when we ceased to exist. Don’t acknowledge the problem and there is no problem —

Out of sight, out of mind.

But it’s not just me and people like me. Ralph Ellison just scratched the tip of the iceberg when he discovered that it was sometimes convenient for society to think of me and people like me as invisible. Take a look around, though, and you discover that there are several subsections of the population who are not thought of.

Ever notice how it is that you never really hear about Native Americans much any more. This society has succeeded in putting them on reservations and isolating them from the rest of the world. So much so that Native Americans have the highest mortality rate of any group of people on this continent.

Did you know that? I’ll bet not…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Ever notice how people avert their eyes when they see a homeless person, or ignore them when they ask for a little change? We then demand from our elected officials that we “do something about the homeless.” Not “something about the problem of homelessness.” We demand that laws be passed deterring the homeless from soliciting us, hoping that they will just go away…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Ever notice how a neighborhood watch program will take a stand to drive the neighborhood crack house out of business, oblivious to the fact that the crack house has not been put out of business, they’ve just been driven into another neighborhood?…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Same with prostitution. You never really get rid of it, but the police crack down on where they do business, and get enough of them off the streets long enough for a big convention to take place in the city. Then, as soon as said convention ends, back on the streets go the ladies of the evening…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Recently, the “problem of the moment” has been homosexuality, same-sex marriages, and gays in the military. This would not have been a problem if those that think this is a problem had not been so concerned about what we do with our orgasms. Having concerned themselves with such high-minded things, however, they want to legislate them out of existence, claiming things “were so much better when they were in the closet…”

Out of sight, out of mind.

When voicing this to a group of lunchtime friends once, a nearby eavesdropper — whom I’d never seen before, will never see again, and was neither directly nor indirectly a part of the conversation — felt it his “patriotic duty” to straighten me out by rudely interrupting my conversation with: “You know, you could be living someplace else like Iran or North Korea. You wouldn’t have the right to say any of this stuff. Is this the greatest country in the world?”

Perturbed, I looked up at the interloper and replied, “You know, this probably is, but that’s just like being the best player on the Los Angeles Clippers. When was the last time anybody mistook him for any good?”

* The title is borrowed from the book Makes Me Wanna Holler, authored by Nathan McCall of the Washington Post. We give credit where credit is due, and we certainly think that Mr. McCall’s book title certainly conveys how the author of this article feels about his subject matter.

Makes Me Wanna Holler is a regular feature of Pshrea, penned by a guest writer each month. The identity of the Invisible Man of the month will remain just that.

Copyright 1996 Accurate Letters Enterprises/Psrhea Magazine

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