by Andrew Pasquini, Sports 1140 KHTK
Colin Kaepernick is having a hard time finding an employer this offseason, but for reasons that shouldn’t deter any NFL teams looking for a quarterback.
Last week, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote an article where he spoke to an anonymous NFL general manager about free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. This anonymous GM broke it down saying 20 percent of teams don’t want to sign the quarterback because they don’t think he can play at a high caliber, 10 percent are afraid of protests against the team by fans and backlash from President Donald Trump, and the rest don’t like him and want nothing to do with him with even one executive calling Kaepernick “an embarrassment to football.”
Let’s look at those three arguments against Kaepernick – he can’t play, his political opinions, and how he’s an “embarrassment” – and look at why those arguments carry no weight as to why teams shouldn’t sign him.
Kaepernick started 11 games in the 2016 season and the San Francisco 49ers were 1-10 in those games. It’s no secret the 49ers were bad last season, but some blame is put on Kaepernick. The argument against his “poor” play is, he didn’t have a terrible season looking at his numbers.
Kaepernick finished the season with a quarterback rating 90.7, which was higher than Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers, and 2015 MVP Cam Newton.
Kaepernick threw 16 touchdown passes in only 12 games, which was more than Brock Osweiler and Alex Smith.
Kaepernick only threw four interceptions which was fewer than Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Derek Carr.
You might look at those numbers and think, that’s only one season. While it is one season, compare Kaepernick’s career to other free agent quarterbacks who have already signed this offseason with new teams:
You cannot convince anybody that Colin Kaepernick is done while also seeing players like Geno Smith and Josh McCown sign contracts. That just doesn’t add up.
Kaepernick can still play football, but now teams are shying away from his political stances and the backlash from them. It’s time to face facts, it’s 2017, politics and sports are now intertwined.
The best example of this is North Carolina’s HB2 law. It’s a controversial bill that a lot of people don’t support. It’s criticism has reached the point where the NBA pulled its all-star game out of the state and the Atlantic Coast Conference pulled its conference championship game out of the state. The reasons behind pulling events out of the state were clearly politically charged.
Yes, the NFL is different than the NCAA and the NBA, but recently the NFL has had cases of players and front office executives putting their feet into the political side of the pool.
First, look at Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets.
Johnson was originally a staffer on Jeb Bush’s campaign team, but then changed his mind and would later endorse Donald Trump. That endorsement earned him a nomination from Trump to be the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom and is currently awaiting Senate confirmation.
Another case is John Elway, the executive vice president of the Denver Broncos. On March 20, Elway released a letter endorsing nominated associate justice Neil Gorsuch on Denver Bronco letter headed paper:
Why do executives with teams get to use their name and their standing in the NFL to support political causes they believe in, where Kaepernick can’t use his? It’s a double-standard within the game that says players don’t get to have opinions, yet higher ups do.
If there’s a team that can get past the backlash and his playing abilities, there’s still the issue of he’s an “embarrassment to football.”
What is the NFL definition of embarrassment? A synonym for embarrassment could be “distraction” and that is painting with a broad brush. Players from Michael Sam to Terrell Owens have been called distractions. Any player with off-field issues, or in Kaepernick’s case, is called a distraction but it begs the question, what is a distraction?
Free agent Adrian Peterson could be a distraction with his child abuse past, but he’s going to sign somewhere. Greg Hardy could have been a distraction with his domestic violence, but the Dallas Cowboys didn’t view it that way. Ray Rice didn’t seem to be a distraction to the Baltimore Ravens until video evidence of him hitting his fiancé came out.
Even lower-tier players like Riley Cooper and Richie Incognito weren’t enough of a distraction to be blackballed like Kaepernick. The NFL even has a chance to prevent a possible distraction in Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon from entering the NFL, but some mock drafts have him going in the first round.
Yes, Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem, but that’s where the moral compass goes too far for the NFL? A league that has allowed child abusers, women abusers, and blatant racists continue to play?
Look at some of the distracting things Kaepernick has done since he started his protest:
- Donated a combined $200,000 to multiple charities in the Bay Area
- Donated $50,000 to Meals on Wheels America
- Donated $50,000 to the Love Army for Somalia
Since he began his protest, the “embarrassment” has donated an estimated $500,000 to different charities (a list of those organizations can be found here).
Kaepernick was such a distraction to his 49ers teammates, the team awarded him the Len Eshmont award, which is a prestigious award that is voted by active 49ers players and given to the player that “best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont.” But yes, continue to tell me how he’s an “embarrassment to football.”
Whether you agree or disagree on his political protests, it doesn’t matter. Everybody is allowed to have an opinion, including Kaepernick, but to dig for any reason as to why Kaepernick should be blackballed, is reckless and irresponsible to every owner, general manager, and executive in the NFL.