NFL players seem to be routinely named in scandals that range from the embarrassing to the criminal. USA Today actually keeps a database of the American football league’s players who have been arrested. Even so, Colin Kaepernick is the most disliked player in the league, according to a poll by E-Poll Marketing Research of 1,100 Americans who were demographically representative of the US population.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback was “disliked a lot” by 29% of those polled, more than any other player of the 350 named in the survey. Kaepernick’s big offense, of course, has been kneeling during the US national anthem to protest racial injustice and violence against black Americans, and has drawn the ire of many who find his actions disrespectful, particularly toward US service members. The absurdity of him ranking as most disliked was succinctly summed up in a tweet, which has been circulating widely on Twitter, in response to ESPN’s story on the poll results.
As of this writing, it had been retweeted nearly 10,000 times and counting. (The original ESPN story on the poll, by comparison, had been retweeted about 760 times.)
Some may disagree with other tweets from the account, but it does highlight the unreasonable anger directed at Kaepernick, who has exercised a right to speech enshrined in the US Constitution on a topic of national importance. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape in a lawsuit against his former university settled earlier this year, ranked second in the poll, “disliked a lot” by 22% of those polled. The third-ranking player, “disliked a lot” by 21% of those polled, is Miami Dolphins defensive end Ndamukong Suh, a man once described by GQ as “the poster boy for gratuitous violence and dirty play” on the field.
The poll results split along racial lines. Kaepernick is more popular than ever among black Americans, who were undoubtedly a key group in making his jersey the top seller on the NFL’s online shop for a time. The poll found that 42% of respondents who are black liked him “a lot,” compared to just 16% two years ago. They’re still a minority in the US, however, which was reflected in the polling.
“Much of the change in sentiment comes from how Caucasians feel about him,” ESPN reported. “Two years ago, only 7 percent of Caucasians said they disliked Kaepernick ‘a lot.’ Last week, that number had jumped to 37 percent.”
Kaepernick’s protest is spreading nonetheless. A number of professional athletes have followed his lead, including the entire Indiana Fever women’s basketball team, which kneeled for the anthem at their Sept. 21 game. And Kaepernick himself is on the new cover of Time magazine, kneeling of course.