Plaintiffs and defendants in the case of Anti-Kaepernick vs. Pro-Kaepernick please stand and raise your right hand, or in this case show respect during the national anthem. Those who fail to do so shall be subject to being blackballed by their respective employer and removed from court.
Well, maybe that’s not how it went down exactly, but it sure seems that way.
Collusion is almost impossible to prove in a courtroom, but luckily for us the NFL isn’t a courtroom.
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire and there’s a wildfire brewing around the real reason why Colin Kaepernick is still without a job offer from one of the 32 NFL teams.
Opening statements from either side?
According to a piece by Bleacher Report’s lead NFL writer Mike Freeman, “about 20 percent of the NFL’s decision-makers “genuinely believe he can’t play.” Another 20 percent are afraid of the blowback from a Kaepernick signing, fearing the reaction of fans, advertisers and even President Trump. The rest of the league?
“The rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem],” one AFC general manager told Freeman. “They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”
Let’s hear from the prosecution first. The charges being levied against Mr. Kaepernick are one count of deteriorating play, another count of being a distraction to a potential employer and of course the most severe of them all: the stigma of being unpatriotic.
Kaepernick chose to kneel during the playing of the national anthem last season in response to police brutality and racism. Those individuals displeased with his course of action almost always seem to focus on his reaction, forgetting that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
Let’s examine each charge the plaintiff is alleging for the sake of debate.
1. Colin Kaepernick’s play has deteriorated. When Kaepernick effectively replaced Alex Smith, who at the time was the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, he took the league by storm with his speed and huge arm. Kaepernick led the 49ers to a Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens where he led an improbable comeback before ultimately falling short in the end. The following season Kaepernick was on the precipice of leading the 49ers to a second consecutive Super Bowl. However, that was then and this is now. Since that time, Kaepernick has had a not-so gracious fall from graces. He’s battled injuries, had to face the shrapnel of criticism (some of which was self-inflicted) and his on-the-field play has dissipated substantially. Or has it? Kaepernick started off last season backing up Blaine Gabbert and yes you just read that correctly, Blaine Gabbert. He posted a win/loss record of 1-11, throwing for 16 touchdowns against just four interceptions. However, the prevailing belief was that Kaepernick was not just done in the NFL as a starter but also as a backup. OBJECTION.
Is there any coincidence that Kaepernick’s success evaporated in the NFL once the parts around him evaporated? I think not. So Kaepernick’s “deteriorating” play has every bit as much to do with the auxiliary parts, or lack thereof, he has surrounding him. We’ve seen what he can do with a legitimate head coach, solid running game and tenacious defense. Improve the situation he’s in and allow him to be the dual-threat quarterback we came to know and love, as opposed to the conventional pocket quarterback and you’ll see an improved Kaepernick. Sustained.
2. The stigma of being a distraction. Many believe that NFL owners are apprehensive about signing Kaepernick because of fear of backlash from the media, fans and even our very own president, as if he doesn’t have bigger fish to fry. I’m sorry your honor but I missed the memo where the prerequisite for being a backup quarterback meant you couldn’t have baggage or any negative publicity. While I agree that a backup quarterback should be seen and not heard, Kaepernick quelled any qualms NFL owners and general managers might have had about signing him when he announced ahead of free agency that he would stand for the national anthem next season. Distraction over with right? Wrong. Not in the eyes of those who hold the power.We’ve seen a myriad of NFL players, past and present, who were deemed as a distraction receive second and even third opportunities. Most recently Greg Hardy, Michael Vick and Adam “Pacman” Jones to name a few. Even the human tornado that was Johnny Manziel has reportedly garnered interest from the New Orleans Saints. The aforementioned names have either been accused or convicted in criminal court or had contentious legal battles. The only court Kaepernick has been convicted in is the court of public opinion.
3. Colin Kaepernick is unpatriotic. He refused to stand before the sacred flag during the national anthem, subsequently casting him into football purgatory and upsetting the NFL owners and a large, vocal segment in this country to the point of no return. But let me tell you what he also did. Kaepenick donated his sneaker collection to benefit the homeless. He has donated money to the Meals on Wheels America initiative and the Love Army for Somalia campaign, which is attempting to use social media to raise $2 million for food and water to help sufferers of the famine in that country. You might not like his means of protest, but you can’t summarily dismiss the efforts he has made to help make America great again. We’ve heard this phrase somewhere before. After all, that’s what patriotism is all about right? Kaepernick not only put his money where his mouth was, he put his money where his knee wasn’t. The plaintiff rests.
Now that we’ve heard several unconvincing arguments from the prosecution, the defense may proceed.
Can we stop pretending we don’t know what’s operating at hand here? As of this article, Mark Sanchez, Mike Glennon, EJ Manuel, and Josh McCown have landed a job in the NFL, with other teams reportedly interested in quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Johnny Manziel.
None of those quarterbacks, with the exception of maybe Mark Sanchez in his early years with the New York Jets have enjoyed the success Kaepernick once did. Yet somehow, they manage to get opportunity after opportunity from NFL teams despite being devoid of any talent, subpar performance on the field and questions about their leadership intangibles. But the NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league.
We all know that.
So what exactly have the previously stated quarterbacks done to warrant and secure a spot as a backup quarterback on an NFL roster?
The answer is simple.
They stood for the national anthem last season.
The verdict may be out on whether or not Kaepernick will receive an offer from an NFL team, but the verdict is in on the NFL owners.
Now we know where they STAND!
The defense rests.
Marcus Lamar is a Washington D.C.-based sports journalist. You can check out his podcast “Marc My Words” on Soundcloud, YouTube and coming to iTunes soon. Follow him on Twitter @iam_marcuslamar.