NFL fans booing Colin Kaepernick is not news anymore. What happened in Sunday’s Dolphins-49ers game was something different.
Kaepernick, the San Francisco quarterback who refuses to stand for the national anthem and has worn a t-shirt bearing Fidel Castro’s image, was running toward the goal line late in the fourth quarter for a touchdown would have tied the game. Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso combined with Ndamukong Suh to tackle Kaepernick short of the goal line to end the game. For Alonso, the tackle was much more than just a game-winning play.
The Miami Herald reported that Alonso is of Cuban descent. His father Carlos fled Cuba to escape the Castro regime. The father and son were aware of Kaepernick’s high opinion of Castro prior to the game.
“I didn’t [live in Castro’s Cuba]. But I do have feelings about it,” the Dolphins linebacker told the Herald. “So there was some bad blood there for me with Kaepernick.”
Alonso was asked if he exchanged any words with Kaepernick on the field.
“No, I had nothing to say,” Alonso said. “Usually, I just try to play my game. But I did try to hit him.”
Kaepernick was booed lustily by the fans in Miami, a community with the highest concentration of Cuban immigrants in the country.
“I got interviewed earlier about what I thought of him [Kaepernick], and I said it’s about immaturity,” Carlos said. “He doesn’t know about the suffering the Cuban people have had. He doesn’t have a clue.”
“He’s ignorant,” Kiko added.
“He still has no clue what a ruthless killer of the Cuban people this guy [Castro] was,” Carlos finished.
After the game, the younger Alonso tweeted a picture of his winning tackle with a challenge to Kaepernick’s manhood in Spanish along with the hashtag “#cubalibre.”
Kaepernick’s post-game comments did little to quell the controversy that has surrounded him since the season began.
“I never said I support the oppressive things [Castro] did,” he said. But the 49er quarterback also praised Castro for “investing” in “education and universal health care.”
Kaepernick’s decision to kneel for the national anthem as a form of social protest has been an ongoing story during the NFL season. Some players have followed his lead, and players in other sports have protested similarly. The league’s television ratings have been in decline this season, with some claiming that fans have been staying away from games as a response to Kaepernick’s disrespect for the anthem. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that he believes Kaepernick’s protests are not the source of lower ratings.