Former Phoenix Suns guard Craig Hodges, who was an outspoken advocate for the poor and minorities during his ten-year NBA career, does not think that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will get another chance to play in the NFL.
During the 2016 NFL preseason, Kaepernick began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick’s protest intended to bring attention to the oppression faced by people of color.
Kaepernick’s protest continued into the NFL regular season. In March of this year he opted out of his contract with the 49ers. He has not been signed. Some say Kaepernick is still a free agent as a result of his play on the field. Others feel it’s a result of his protest.
Appearing on Scoop B Radio, Hodges was not unclear about what he thinks the protest means for Kaepernick’s football career.
“I don’t think he will play again in the NFL because out of sight out of mind.”
Hodges spent time with the San Diego Clippers, Suns, and Milwaukee Bucks before four seasons with the Chicago Bulls. He was a member of Chicago’s 1992 NBA Championship team. When the Bulls visited the White House, Hodges wore a dashiki and delivered to President George H.W. Bush a hand written letter. That letter outlined his displeasure with the way the Bush administration treated minorities in the United States.
He was especially critical of Michael Jordan for not speaking out on social and political issues.
In 1996, four years removed from his last NBA game, Hodges filed a $40 million lawsuit against the league. The suit alleged that he was being blackballed by the NBA’s 29 teams for his criticism of “African-American professional athletes who failed to use their considerable wealth and influence to assist the poor and disenfranchised."
The lawsuit also reference Hodges’ relationship with Louis Farrakhan. When he was waived by Chicago, Hodges was 32-years-old. He did not receive a tryout from an NBA team. At the time, Bulls coach Phil Jackson found this peculiar.
“I also found it strange that not a single team called to inquire about him. Usually, I get at least one call about a player we've decided not to sign. And yes, he couldn't play much defense, but a lot of guys in the league can't, but not many can shoot from his range, either."
With accusations abound that Kaepernick finds himself in a similar situation, Hodges sees a difference between protesting in the NBA versus the NFL.
“In the sport, unlike basketball where you might be able to sit out twelve months and still be able to come back and play, but the question becomes in that twelve months: ‘Is anybody even going to mess with you anymore?’ Because they already said you are obsolete because you have been twelve months away from the game.”
If he does receive that opportunity, Hodges thinks you’ll see a different Kaepernick.
“There isn’t a need to take a knee anymore. I think now it’s just a matter of him wanting to play football. If he gets a chance to play football he is going to play football and do what he is capable of doing. Hopefully he gets that opportunity.”