-October 23, 2017
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer broke his arm in the Week 7 shutout loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Once again, an NFL team is faced with the question of whether they’d rather lose games than deal with Colin Kaepernick.
For the uninitiated: Colin Kaepernick is being black-listed from employment solely because of his politics.
At his peak, when he took the San Francisco 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship games and a trip to the Super Bowl, he was a top-ten NFL quarterback. His play had slipped and offseason surgeries resulted in the loss of both muscle mass and his starting job going into the 2016 season.
Kaepernick was injured and out of uniform and no one noticed that he was sitting on the bench during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. Once in uniform he was noticed and when asked why he had sat during the anthem he replied that his protest was against police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick then met with former Army Ranger and NFL long-snapper Nate Boyer who suggested that Kaepernick instead take a knee as a sign of respect. While Kaepernick faced fierce criticism from those predisposed to be against the nature of his silent, peaceful protest – numerous other NFL players began to join Kaepernick, as well as USWNT Megan Rapinoe, and countless college and high school and younger players across a number of sports.
Meanwhile, Kap’s health continued to improve as he regained muscle mass along with his starting job. Despite playing on one of the worst rosters in the league, Colin Kaepernick accounted for 16 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. Despite the pressure he played under, and his not being at full strength, he performed incredibly well; and because of it he and the San Francisco 49ers organization agreed to restructure his contract so that he would be paid less and injury wouldn’t prevent their parting ways at the conclusion of the season.
During that, his age 29, season, Kaepernick completed more than 200 passes. No other quarterback in NFL history has completed that many passes at that age and been unemployed the following season. Just Colin Kaepernick. He is being black-balled from employment because of his politics.
There is no question that Kaepernick belongs on an NFL roster. His health is only improved from where it was the past few seasons. He is still in the prime of his career. He is better than many quarterbacks currently on NFL rosters. And practically every NFL team would’ve been better off with his services.
Some teams are grooming young and unproven quarterbacks but need placeholders: Chicago, Cleveland, and, until recently, Houston. Some teams – such as Dallas, New England, Atlanta, and Seattle – have established quarterbacks but need insurance for their Super Bowl dreams in case of injury at the quarterback position. Denver, Indianapolis, Green Bay, and now Arizona, have already felt the repercussions of colluding to black-ball Colin Kaepernick.
Washington, Buffalo, Minnesota, and Miami have cloudy futures at quarterback. San Francisco, Jacksonville and the New York Jets have absolutely no future. Quarterback play for Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Oakland has been atrocious. Kap would be a good fit as a backup in Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Tennessee. Pittsburgh, New Orleans, the New York Giants, and Los Angeles Chargers have aging quarterbacks.
Outside of the Kansas City Chiefs (and perhaps Detroit and the Los Angeles Rams), every other NFL team should have at least brought Kap in for workouts.
He did workout for the Seattle Seahawks in a distasteful act of kabuki theatre. When Coach Pete Carroll was asked why Kap was not offered a contract he replied that Kap was too good to be a backup and the Hawks already have a starter in Russell Wilson.
Going in to training camp each team had at least four quarterbacks on their rosters. Times 32 teams means NFL owners, general managers, and coaches chose at least 120 quarterbacks and not one was named Colin Kaepernick. A guy whose career interception rate is the second lowest in NFL history to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. A guy who was voted team captain despite going into the season as a backup and led the league in jersey sales. A guy who backs up his silent, peaceful protest with his time and money. An articulate, black gentleman who knows his rights and has the courage of his noble convictions.
And that’s what they don’t like. So they twist his patriotic protest against police brutality and social injustice into being something about songs or flags or troops. And he is blackballed from the league. Suddenly, only a handful of players protested including San Francisco’s Eric Reid, Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins, Kansas City’s Marcus Peters, plus Miami’s Michael Thomas and Seattle’s Michael Bennett.
Until Trump ramped up the culture war his base so craves and told NFL owners to fire those kneeling “sons of bitches”. Suddenly, the same billionaire Republican owners like Jerry Jones, who gave Trump millions for his election, were so offended at his telling them how to run their business (and do what they had already done to Colin Kaepernick) that they locked arms, knelt, or stayed in locker rooms in unity with hundreds of players.
The silent protests against police brutality and social injustice that had already been twisted as unpatriotic offenses against deceased troops were then twisted into being against Trump, the man, for offending them, millionaires and billionaires, personally. (Not to minimize their rights as individuals or the generational wealth many are accruing for their families, but Trump has committed far worse offenses against Muslims, immigrants, women, science, and so on…)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled things as ham-handedly as usual by making dumb statements and not inviting Kaepernick to a meeting with players.
Trump, of course, confusingly rejoiced that their actions were in support of him – while at the same time exclaiming that NFL ratings are down because people are disgusted with the kneeling. (Cable numbers are down overall as more people cut the cord; and more people are finding ways to stream games.) In fact, Trump wasted millions of dollars in tax payer money to send Mike Pence on a pre-planned seven minute stunt protest of a Colts/49ers game – so at least one person has protested at least one NFL game over the kneeling.
I, for one, have watched but two NFL games this season. Please, Arizona Cardinals, or some, any other NFL team, sign Colin Kaepernick so I can feel comfortable watching your players bash their skulls together again.