Seven members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education are calling on the Washington Redskins to give NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick an immediate tryout for the injury-plagued Washington football team.
The board members — representing half of the 14-person governing body — said in a letter sent late Thursday that Kaepernick is worthy based on his record, but that their reasoning goes beyond football.
“We believe that giving Kaepernick an opportunity will send the right message to our students and community members, who see him as someone who cares about issues affecting our community,” the board members wrote.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, when he ignited a debate on patriotism and protest as he knelt during the national anthem in a demonstration against racial inequality and police brutality against African Americans. He has inspired other peaceful protests, including by students, but no team has hired him, and in 2017 he filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.
The Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland reported in early December that the Redskins considered bringing Kaepernick in for a workout, but decided against it.
A column posted Friday on FiveThirtyEight asserted picking up Kaepernick might still be a plus.
In the letter to Redskins officials, the Prince George’s board members said if they, like Kaepernick, did not stand for the national anthem, it “wouldn’t cost us the opportunity to work, and it shouldn’t cost him either.”
They thanked the Redskins for charitable work in schools and expressed interest in working with Kaepernick’s philanthropic organization.
FedEx Field, where the Redskins play, is in Prince George’s.
Tony Wyllie, a spokesman for the team, said the Redskins are focused on beating the Jacksonville Jaguars this week but that they respond to all letters mailed to them.
Here is the letter the board members wrote:
Dear Daniel Snyder, Bruce Allen, and Doug Williams,
We’d like to first thank you for the charitable work that your franchise has done and is still doing for Prince George’s County Public Schools. As a school system, we pride ourselves on our ability to prepare our students to take full advantage of all the opportunities available to them. We write you today about a matter that’s on the minds of many Prince Georgians, as well as fans nationwide. Our view is that the Washington Football Team needs to give Colin Kaepernick an opportunity to join the team in a form of a try-out, and need to do so immediately.
Our reasoning goes far beyond football. While it is apparent that Kaepernick is at least deserving of a roster spot based on his track record as an NFL quarterback, we think he merits an opportunity for other reasons. Historically this organization [has] shown leadership in the National Football League. As you know in 1987 Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to lead an NFL team to a Super Bowl victory. For African American boys around America and especially here in the DC area, one didn’t have to look far for inspiration.
Fast forward 30 years, and the need for this franchise to lead the NFL is still there. Giving Kaepernick an opportunity would send an even more powerful message today to our community and our students; that a person can peacefully protest for causes that they believe in and not be punished for it even though they are otherwise qualified for the position.
As school board members our reasons for wanting Kaepernick to get a try-out are simple. We believe that giving Kaepernick an opportunity will send the right message to our students and community members, who see him as someone who cares about issues affecting our community. If signed, we look forward to working with him, and the Washington organization to create the types of programming and spaces for our young people to discuss and debate the issues affecting them. If Kaepernick is signed we hope to work with his philanthropic organization to partner with our most needy students and provide more opportunities for our students.
As school board members, not standing for the national anthem wouldn’t cost us the opportunity to work, and it shouldn’t cost him either.
We look forward to hearing from you, and getting this done for the benefit of Prince Georgians and Redskins fans everywhere. We know that this decision is not an easy one and that there could be backlash. We stand ready to support you in doing the right thing and making a decision that will help the team and our community on and off the field.
David Murray, Board Member, District 1
Joshua M. Thomas, Board Member, District 2
Belinda Queen, Board Member, District 6
Edward Burroughs, III, Board Member, District 8
Amanya Paige, Student Board Member
Curtis Valentine, Board Member, At Large
Paul Monteiro, Board Member, At Large