SEVERE WX : Excessive Heat Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

The irony of Robert Kraft visiting Meek Mill in prison

Robert Kraft, one of the most powerful owners in the National Football League, took the unusual step of visiting a ra...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 9:01 AM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 9:01 AM

Robert Kraft, one of the most powerful owners in the National Football League, took the unusual step of visiting a rapper named Meek Mill in a state prison in Pennsylvania. The symbolism of the extremely wealthy white owner of the New England Patriots taking time to check on a young black man serving time for no good reason, because of minor parole violations, can be intoxicating.

Kraft said the right things while discussing Mill's predicament, but it's odd to see him come to the defense of a rapper he can do little for while refusing to use his status to speak on behalf of someone he can help: Colin Kaepernick.

"It makes it clear to me we have to do something with criminal justice reform," Kraft said outside the prison.

He called Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, "an amazing young man" who is "very intelligent."

"It's just sad," he said. "This guy is a great guy. Shouldn't be here."

He's right, Mill shouldn't be in prison for what amounts to technical violations of a parole that stretched more than a decade, an uncommonly long time. He got into a fight and was caught popping wheelies on his motorcycle and sentenced to two to four years in prison by a judge who has been accused of being "enamored" with the rapper.

But no one should be fooled. As long as Kraft and other NFL owners continue blackballing players like Kaepernick -- who missed all of last season and has yet to be signed by a team despite being more talented and accomplished than many quarterbacks who are collecting NFL checks -- Kraft's trek to that Pennsylvania prison won't mean much. That message was underscored by the Seattle Seahawks' decision to sign a quarterback with no experience instead of keeping a scheduled meeting with Kaepernick after he reportedly didn't declare he would no longer protest.

The former 49ers quarterback, who led the team to the Super Bowl and came within a play of winning the title, has not been in trouble with the law. He was a strong player with a strong arm who did not get in trouble on or off the field.

Instead, he used his platform to raise awareness about injustice, first by quietly sitting through the singing of the National Anthem, then taking a knee after consulting with a military veteran who told him that pose showed reverence for the flag and country.

Kaepernick is a "very intelligent," "amazing young man" like Mill.

He has made the country aware of the need for criminal justice reform in a way no one else managed to do, something Kraft said he wants. Kaepernick is among the nation's most influential voices on the subject, but his treatment by the NFL is one of the league's great recent shames. After President Donald Trump called protesting NFL players a vulgar name, Kraft, who was recently deposed in Kaepernick's grievance case, said he supported the players' "right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful" -- words that ring hollower by the day.

"I know some of our players in the NFL have talked about this, and I see it firsthand; it's just wrong and we have to find a way to correct it," Kraft said about the justice system after visiting Mill.

If he was serious, he'd do more than talk and highlight a single injustice. Kraft would use his position to make it clear that no one who decides to peacefully protest to bring about the reform Kraft says he desires will be punished harshly under his watch. Given that he owns a team led by a 40-year-old quarterback and traded away the seeming heir apparent, Kraft should sign Kaepernick, which would help his football team. And it would help push for equality in the criminal justice system that Kraft seems to agree is urgently needed.

Without meaningful action, Kraft appears to be just a powerful white man who makes public gestures to befriend some members of an oppressed group while doing nothing to help them. It's not enough for a man like Kraft to visit a popular rapper in prison and say a few pretty words about the need for equality and reform. He can do more, much more. And he must.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 101050

Reported Deaths: 3895
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles487612201
Riverside7139303
San Diego6882249
Orange5646136
San Bernardino4567176
Alameda304993
Santa Clara2688140
San Francisco240840
San Mateo196382
Kern194136
Tulare179679
Santa Barbara160412
Fresno153526
Contra Costa137537
Imperial135224
Sacramento131956
Ventura101732
San Joaquin77133
Kings6983
Stanislaus67028
Sonoma5244
Solano49920
Monterey4298
Marin42014
Merced2737
San Luis Obispo2631
Santa Cruz2052
Yolo20022
Placer1949
Napa1093
Humboldt982
Madera902
El Dorado800
San Benito762
Sutter422
Nevada411
Butte400
Del Norte400
Shasta374
Mono351
Yuba281
Mendocino230
Lake190
Inyo191
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Glenn130
Amador100
Siskiyou61
Colusa50
Tuolumne40
Plumas40
Lassen40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 103° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Oroville
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 104° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 74°
Paradise
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Chester
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 50°
Red Bluff
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 104° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Willows
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 107° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Today a heat wave continues but tomorrow night rain moves in, lasting into Saturday with much cooler temperatures. We warm up again on Tuesday.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events