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It’s the second Sunday in September, Week One in the National Football League. Today marks the first 2017 regular-season game for my hometown Baltimore Ravens, a team I’ve followed quasi-religiously for nearly two decades. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t watch or listen to the game. Not because I had another commitment, or was traveling, or had work to do. I have memorably gone to great lengths to watch games in all of the above situations, usually bringing along a jersey or other talisman for the occasion, or positioning one in front of the TV at home (as my favorite local sports talk radio host often reminds listeners, “fan” is short for “fanatic”).

I didn’t tune in because the 29-year-old, free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who very nearly completed a brilliant comeback against the Ravens in Super Bowl 47 as a member of the San Francisco 49ers — was not signed by a team (including the Ravens, who demonstrated both need and interest) this offseason. Kaepernick is not in the NFL right now for one reason: he engaged in a silent, peaceful protest by sitting or kneeling during the national anthem that opens every sporting event in our country…

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