There couldn’t possibly be any disparity between races in the NFL right?

Baker Mayfield’s actions have brought a ton of attention over the last few weeks, but the reactions may be a little shocking.

Mayfield was fined $10,026 by the NFL for an “inappropriate gesture” during a Week 16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He also stared down his former head coach, Hue Jackson, and referred to Jackson as “fake” in previous comments. Mayfield defends his actions as “speaking his mind” and stated that he doesn’t need anyone’s approval of what he does. But is that really true?

Exactly a year ago, I questioned Mayfield’s college actions, and asked the question: If Baker Mayfield were named Jalen Hurts, would his behavior be acceptable? This was specifically in response a few of Mayfield’s antics during his college career.

  • Planting a Oklahoma Sooners’ flag in the Ohio State logo after a win in Ohio
  • Arrested for public intoxication and fleeing police
  • Grabbed his crotch (another inappropriate gesture) and yelled obscenities at the Jayhawks’ sideline during a road game against Kansas

This is the Heisman winner, who took the award over Lamar Jackson and Bryce Love, both of whom were “model citizens” in comparison to Mayfield, and both were both statistically deserving as well.

But today, in an NFL where so many players are judged by their actions, why is Baker Mayfield an exception?

Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed. He made the decision to speak his mind and not care what people thought of his actions. It ultimately cost him his job at that time, and ultimately ended up costing him a career as a quarterback in the NFL. Kaepernick, who had proven results as the leader of the San Francisco 49ers, was outcast by the league for taking a public stance against racial injustice in the United States. His actions were viewed as unpatriotic, and a disgrace to the Armed Forces and those who fought for our civil liberties. The President of the United States even offered his opinion, stating that player who protested during the anthem shouldn’t be in the country anymore.

I’m not comparing the actions of someone who took a stand against social injustice to the actions of a rookie who has tantrums on the football field. The question is, what kind of person does the NFL truly value? It seems as it is okay to make bad personal decisions, as long as it doesn’t have an impact on the business of the game. Kaepernick had an impact on the bottom line in the NFL, as he was the catalyst for a host of individuals to express their opinions and feelings on the controversial topics that he helped shed more light on. Mayfield had no financial impact on anyone but himself, being fined by the league for his actions.

But it makes you wonder, what if the roles were reversed. How would Colin Kaepernick be treated if he were a brash young player who didn’t care about his profane and obscene gestures are viewed because he sees it as passion in the heat of battle? How would Baker Mayfield be viewed if he took a stance against social injustice? Would we still think the same of each player? Would the NFL treat each the same? Based on the track record of the NFL when it comes to discipline of behavior, I think not.

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