Hoffarth: Is it fair to compare Colin Kaepernick and Muhammad Ali?
By Tom Hoffarth
Colin Kaepernick, Muhammad Ali.
In the same breath? The same conversation? Heading toward the same legacy?
It’s something we keep hearing. It’s nothing we take lightly.
But how do these men connect on the accuracy meter?
“I think there’s a huge correlation,” said Jonathan Eig, whose new expansive book, “Ali: A Life” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 606 pages, $30), doesn’t officially come out until Tuesday but has already matriculated to some book store shelves – perhaps because of the timely nature.
The Chicago-based Eig, who has done previous books on the social significance of Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig, doesn’t hesitate when connecting dots from Ali to Kaepernick and beyond after all that’s been happening in the politics-colliding-with-sports narrative of late.
“Athletes today are following a tradition set by Ali, saying we have a right to be more than just entertainers, we’re not here to play just because you pay us,” said Eig. “We’re human beings and we have a right to speak out in what we believe in just like anybody else in America.”
Speaking of which …
‘THIS GENERATION’S ALI’
Noted sports and political activist Harry Edwards was one of the more prominent people to call Kaepernick “this generation’s Ali” going back to last season when the then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback started taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
It took a little while before some even noticed. Kapernick explained how he was doing it because he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” in light of the recent police-related killings of black people.
Edwards noticed and in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News last December, he elaborated:
“In the same sense that nobody would have ever suspected that the heavyweight champion of the world — somebody […]