Sports Illustrated has finally responded to the wave of criticism over the magazine’s “Sports United” cover. The Oct. 2 issue includes LeBron James, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Stephen Curry and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But one person was notably absent: Colin Kaepernick. He spurred the protest during the national anthem last season to draw a spotlight on Black oppression. Thus, many have been outraged that the cover shunned the free agent quarterback. But SI executive editor Steve Canella says Kaepernick’s presence is simply felt and not seen.
“In some ways, even though his picture is not there, Colin Kaepernick is there,” Cannella says on “Sports Illustrated Now” Tuesday, Sept. 26. “I think we all know that. Colin Kaepernick was — for lack of a better word — was looming over everything that happened this past weekend. And looms over many issues in society right now.
“I thought what we were trying to capture with this cover was the way new voices emerged this weekend and the way this debate, this issue, this protest movement has sort of evolved even beyond Colin Kaepernick. He’s the guy who started it all. I think we saw a lot more people in various ways sort of join the movement … this weekend. That’s what we’re trying to capture on that cover. Colin Kaepernick is on that cover even if his face and his name aren’t there, we all know who stands behind this movement. We all know who got it started. Colin Kaepernick has many more brothers than he did a week ago.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 26, 2017
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“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” Goodell said in part.
“For better or worse, Roger Goodell is the NFL,” Canella says. “He represents the shield. … I thought he came out fairly strong or stronger than I expected anyway. … [The cover] is just a statement about the way people have come together. I think it’s pretty clear which side of the issue Roger Goodell stood on.”
Yet there are several people who are unsatisfied with Canella’s explanation.
That is so full of it to say his NAME is not there but Kaepernick is there. LIES!!!
— Shelia Harris (@SheliaH322) September 28, 2017
*coughs into hand*COUGH-bullshit
— Andy Moose (@lazermoose) September 28, 2017
Lmao “in some ways Kaepernick was there” is @KellyannePolls level spin on this cover
— تشارلي جبرد (@realcgabbard) September 26, 2017
Among the many who aren’t applauding the “Sports United” cover is Steph Curry. While speaking to reporters Wednesday, Sept. 27, the Golden State Warriors point guard was unfazed about being included on the cover.
“That was terrible,” Curry says of Kaepernick’s noninclusion. “If you don’t have [Kaepernick] front and center, something’s wrong.”
— Atlanta Black Star (@ATLBlackStar) September 28, 2017