“The Take” for Monday, August 29

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Oh Say Can You See…

Courtesy: Jennifer Lee Chan
Courtesy: Jennifer Lee Chan

Except sometimes it’s hard to see the American flag if you’re sitting down. But that’s what 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick did over the weekend before the Niners’ pre-season game against Green Bay. When asked about it by NFL Media after the game, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” For the team’s part, Niners coach Chip Kelly said it was Kaepernick’s “right as a citizen” to choose not to stand, and the NFL said “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”

Why we care…

Athletes for decades have used their celebrity as podiums for social expression, from Muhammad Ali to the Black Power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the ’68 Olympics to Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who also refused to stand for the Anthem 20 years ago. Kaepernick indeed has the right to do as he chooses during the Anthem. But the court of public opinion was swift to judge. (remember when Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were the toast of the NFL, introducing a new ‘read option’ offense to the game?) Their trajectories since their rookie seasons have gone in opposite directions, with Kaepernick not even assured of a job with the Niners now that they have a new head coach. Kaepernick has been very vocal about equal rights even before this and has every right to express his opinion. But advertisers and fans have every right to express theirs.

Back to back for Romo

In yet another major casualty of the pre-season, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo could be out 6-10 weeks (and that could be optimistic) after he suffered a broken bone in his back in the third play of this past weekend’s game against the Seahawks. And it’s an all-too familiar story for Romo, who is looking at his fourth straight year of missing at least one game, including being out one game in 2014 with two transverse process fractures in his back and 12 games last year with a twice-broken left collarbone.

Why we care…

The Cowboys’s backup now, since Kellen Moore suffered a broken leg, is Dak Prescott, their fourth-round draft pick from Mississippi State who led the Bulldogs to their first Number 1 ranking in the school’s history. If Prescott starts in the opener, which he’s expected to do, he’ll be the first rookie quarterback to start a game for the Cowboys since Drew Henson on Thanksgiving Day in 2004. The Cowboys have shown confidence in Prescott, but Jerry Jones says they’ll look at veteran backups. So stay with me here…Jerry has had the “jones” for a certain Heisman-winning Texas A&M quarterback ever since he came out of College Station. Could you see Johnny Manziel getting one more (last?) chance in Big D? #justsayin

Hope going Solo…

This may be the beginning of the end for Hope Solo’s soccer career. Solo already was facing a six month suspension from the U.S. Soccer organization after she called Sweden’s Olympic soccer team “cowards” after Sweden beat the U.S. Now, the Seattle Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League announced that Solo had been “granted a personal leave” before the team faced off against the Portland Thorns on Saturday night. The leave is said to be indefinite.

Why we care…

If this is the end of Solo’s national career, she leaves as one of U.S. Soccer’s most decorated players. She has won two Olympic gold medals and played a key role in the Americans’ win at the 2015 World Cup. She has appeared in 202 international games, winning more than 75 percent of them (153) and posting shutouts in more than half (102). But she also has made a career of clashing with coaches and teammates, has domestic violence charges against her that were originally dropped but then reinstated, and was with her husband when he was accused of driving the team van drunk. The 35-year-old’s talent has always overshadowed her controversies–until now.

Congrats to the Little League World Series Champs…

Ryan Harlost is the King of New York today, as he led his NY team to the Little League World Series championship with a 2-1 win over South Korea. Harlost struck out eight and held South Korea to five hits while scoring the deciding run on a passed ball. By the way, New York is the first U.S. team to win the LLWS since 2011. Since the early 1960s, the Little League World Series has been part of our TV viewing, first on tape delay as part of “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” to ESPN’s wall-to-wall coverage. And it gave us our first glimpse of future stars such as Mo’ne Davis, the NFL’s Matt Cassel and Chad Pennington, MLB’s Todd Frazier and Sean Burroughs and NASCAR’s Austin Dillon.

Why we care…

Every once in a while we get to look at what these games should be all about. Isaiah Jensen, the pitcher for Oregon’s team, had just walked an opposing batter when his coach, who’s also his dad, called time to walk to the mound. Joel Jensen wasn’t there to talk strategy, though, he was there to tell his son he loved him. Probably don’t get much of that in the majors.

Ryder Cup drama…

Patrick Reed and Ricky Fowler were not just battling for the win at The Barclays on Sunday: They were battling for a guaranteed spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Reed played big, rallying from a two-shot deficit to win the FedEx Cup playoff opener and assure himself a clear shot at the $10 million bonus. And he secured a spot on the U.S. team at Hazeltine that will try to win back the Ryder Cup, joining Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Michelson, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker. Fowler needed only to finish alone in third place to give himself a Ryder Cup automatic, but instead he slid into a tie for seventh.

Why we care…

Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III has three captain’s picks to make after the next two FedEx Cup playoff events, then his fourth pick will come after the Tour Championship. Fowler still has a reasonable chance to be at Hazeltine on September 30 for the Ryder Cup, the every-two-years battle between the best golfers from America and Europe. By the way, Team USA hasn’t won the Ryder Cup since 2008.

This week’s class act award goes to…

The Tennessee Volunteer football team, which will wear helmet stickers this season to honor Lady Vols head basketball coach Pat Summitt, who died on June 28 after a five-year fight with Alzheimer’s.

This week’s ‘lend a helping hand award’ goes to…

Nationals’ superstar Bryce Harper, who offered to hold Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky’s medals as she threw out the first pitch at Washington’s game with the Orioles last week.

Feature photo courtesy of Marcio Jose Sanchez with Associated Press, taken September 12 in Santa Clara, California.

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