My Thoughts on the Latest Colin Kaepernick Controversy
Would-Be NFL Player/Activist Fumbles at the Worst Possible Moment
I tried. I really tried.
I tried to support and defend Colin Kaepernick, the unemployed multi-millionaire quarterback-turned-activist who was clearly the victim of disproportionate backlash from NFL fans and teams. Please, mark me down as a supporter and a defender.
Here’s some perspective: Women-beaters, drug abusers, accused rapists, and dog killers have signed and re-signed with teams. Those clearly guilty of serious crimes are cheered by fans, their despicable acts all but ignored by tribal mobs. But Kaepernick, an activist making a peaceful display of protest against racial injustice in America becomes an outcast and a pariah. Shame on the fans and teams for losing all sense of perspective and for their grotesque hypocrisy. Cheering for women beaters and dog killers while blasting Kaepernick makes you look like a joke.
That said, the NFL held a so-called “workout” this past weekend, which was likely Kaepernick’s one and last chance to prove he belongs in a uniform under contract. Not only did Kaepernick blow this opportunity in the worst way, but he also embarrassed himself and harmed the noble causes he supposedly espouses:
Here’s my perspective:
(1) There are approximately 96 NFL quarterbacks on 32 team rosters, and even more with practice squads and on injured reserve. Question — Is Kaepernick a “top 96” quarterback? The answer is yes, or at least *was* yes. Kaepernick took his last snap three years ago, in 2016. Nonetheless, given the current dregs of NFL quarterbacking (Chicago Bears, are you listening), Kaepernick would likely be, at worst, a capable backup who deserves a chance at playing.
(2) I was never of a fan of Kaepernick’s skill set, even when he was successful as a starter. He’s not the quarterback I’d want to build a team around. However, he was a winner, albeit on a very good team at the time. Given the older retreads, mostly losing quarterbacks, who continue getting plenty of opportunities (Derek Anderson, Matt Cassel), and even start games (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub), Kaepernick should be on a team somewhere.
(3) Kaepernick handled the initial controversy terribly (back in 2016). Showing up to team practice in socks portraying police officers as pigs was disgraceful and stupid. His public comments about there being no difference between then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton showed appalling ignorance. His admission that he didn’t even bother to vote in the 2016 election reveals the downright stupidity of a social influencer and bad example for others to follow.
(4) I, and many others inclined to support Kaepernick, chalked up those dumb comments in 2016 to simple immaturity, and perhaps not understanding the gravity of his actions. Over time, we expected the activist to understand his cause has become much bigger than any individual. Given Kaepernick had three years to learn more, develop better understanding, and explain himself, we thought he’d mature and perhaps even admit he was wrong in the way he handled the scrutiny.
(5) Kaepernick’s opportunity to show his skills and demonstrate he was still in football shape was a unique chance not given to any previous player. He should have agreed essentially to do whatever it took to sign with a team and contribute. Prospective teams were reportedly not looking so much at Kaepernick’s arm or legs of physicality but wanted to see if he really wanted to play. Unfortunately, he answered these questions before the workout by getting into a pointless legal spat about liabilities and waivers, demanding that cameras be allowed onto the field when NFL rules forbid such media attention, and then moved the location at the last minute. Nothing was gained by this idiotic last-minute dispute.
(6) Showing up in a t-shirt with the letters “KUNTA KINTE” on the front of his shirt was football suicide. Anyone, including supporters, who thought Kaepernick would be focused on his game and wouldn’t be a distraction was shown to be foolish. This ridiculous optic of self-comparison to the slave from “Roots,” was mind-bogglingly stupid.
(7) Lest there remain any doubt about Kaepernick’s confusion and mixed intentions over the weekend, he also made a huge deal out of a new line of shoes being released by Nike. This was nothing but a media sideshow intended to cash a paycheck. No one should care what Kaepernick, the prospective NFL player, is wearing or promoting. But he made an embarrassing spectacle of himself in pimping his shoes. This wasn’t the first time Kaepernick has created a sideshow that detracted from his message.
(8) Kaepernick is finished as an NFL quarterback. He will never take another snap. Prior to this weekend, that was the NFL’s fault, in an obvious case of collective bias and collusion. Now, Kaepernick’s fate is his own doing. It’s his own fault, likely shared by some idiotic agents and personal advisors.
My main takeaway from this mess is that we can and should separate the message from the messenger. Indeed, the justice system in this country is biased. Protests are justified. Kneeling for the National Anthem is an act of patriotism. Speaking out for one’s personal beliefs is very American. Kaepernick is not only worth defending *on* the football field. He should be hailed as a hero and a role model.
But “off” the field, Kaepernick has fumbled at the worst possible moment. He turned over any advantage to his haters and detractors with a series of preposterous blunders. He lost the undecided and made a mockery out of those who were adamant in supporting him publically.
Surely, a decade from now, perhaps sooner, there will be an ESPN “30 for 30” when Kaepernick will be celebrated and remembered as a brave person of principle. In some respects, that praise shall be deserved. However, in the meantime, all Kaepernick has done is stupidly waste two opportunities — his chance to play in the NFL again, and our chance to evolve into a nation with a better understanding of social activism and the things worth defending.
Mr. Kaepernick — you’ve got your shoe company money. You got your media attention. Now, please — go away. I don’t want to hear from you again.