While Colin Kaepernick might be the face of an NFL protest movement against institutional racism, and police brutality, former Stanford star Doug Baldwin is rapidly becoming the movement’s soul. Baldwin appears to be the touch stone for players around the league who are considering a protest.The son of a 35-year police veteran, Baldwin did organize his Seahawks teammates to link arms between black and white team members during the National Anthem on opening day of this year’s NFL season. Talking recently with 49ers media before Seattle hosted San Francisco on Sept. 25, Baldwin said players around the league were planning a coordinated protest. But that hasn’t happened yet.
On HBO’s Any given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, Baldwin said that mass league-wide or team-wide protest has been halted by player fear.
“A number of guys have contacted me, they want to take a knee … and do it together to be a little bit more agitating to people who don’t want to hear the message,” Baldwin said. “It’s hard to get that message to everyone across the league, because they’re scared.”
Baldwin said two factors are suppressing a larger protest – the possibility of losing endorsement dollars and NFL owners who have apparently warned players against protesting.
Kaepernick’s former college teammate, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, lost two endorsements in one week after the now Denver Bronco joined Kaepernick in protesting the anthem. Broadband provider CenturyLink, which coincidentally is the naming rights sponsor for Baldwin home stadium in downtown Seattle, “politely terminated” their deal with Marshall.
The Air Force Federal Credit Union then followed suit, ending their relationship with Marshall.
Baldwin also said NFL owners are pressuring players to stand for the anthem.
“There are some owners out there who have taken a stand and told their players they can’t do certain things,” Baldwin said. “The one quote that I was informed of was, ‘You are going to stand on the white line with your hand on your heart and you are going to sing the national anthem because this is my stage.’”