Kap makes it back to Madden, and NFL owners punt
Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From Madden doing right by Colin Kaepernick to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.
Since its inception three decades ago, the Madden football franchise has steadily expanded the expectation of photorealism in video games, the gridiron software feeling increasingly lifelike with each passing year. The latest edition, Madden 21, takes things to the next level by making league-ousted quarterback Colin Kaepernick available for gameplay — a move that’s on one hand admirable, and on the other hand, so obviously valid that it once again underscores the fuckery of his fallout with the NFL. Social justice: It’s in the game.
The avatar of the 32-year-old QB rocks his now-signature afro, and raises a Black power fist every time he scores — a callback to his touchdown celebrations when he was still sporting a San Francisco 49ers jersey. After being excluded from the past three Madden releases, Kaepernick returns as the highest-rated free agent in the game (81), and in the top 15 players at his position. It’s a powerful message in itself from the developers at EA Sports, who simply gave the people what they want: a type of social justice and pigskin-savvy move that NFL owners are too racist and/or cowardly to bring to fruition. (Disclosure: Kaepernick sits on Medium’s board of directors, and has announced that he’s collaborating with LEVEL on future projects.)
“Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback,” EA Sports said in a statement that rings with more sincerity than any of the NFL’s public pseudo support. Of course the league’s about-face, which has proven to be all lip service, comes years after Kaepernick’s pre-game protests of police brutality led to him being blackballed. “The team at EA Sports, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game… We look forward to seeing Colin on Madden NFL teams everywhere.”
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The sad thing is, when the real-life NFL season resumes on Thursday — throwing caution to the wind amidst Covid-19 — Colin Kaepernick will likely remain unsigned to any team for a fourth consecutive year. At this point, it’s beyond…