But against all odds, the season was not quite lost because of quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to call out the country's racial sins by taking a knee during ritual performances of the national anthem. Even though 69 percent of NFL players are black, commentators mostly assumed he would merely alienate his fellows. Aren't these big, dangerous men taught early and often that they can only succeed in their much loved sport by tamping down their thoughts and feelings? At every level, coaches and decision makers strive to make automatons of brilliantly talented athletes -- "for the good of the team," of course.
Well, it seems not to have turned out that way for Kaepernick. He was often booed by hostile crowds. But his fellow 49ers apparently admired his stand. Even the team's authorities stood up for him. The players voted to give him
Who knows where any of these 49ers will land next season. The General Manager and Kelly have already been fired. But Kaepernick broke through the showy phony patriotism and machismo of the national spectator sport -- and found he was not so alone as might have been feared.