Colin Kaepernick highlights disconnect in American values

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As Colin Kaepernick still waits to hear from a single NFL team after his personal workout last week the disconnect between reality and American values continues to be stark.

The NFL is a small world that often reflects the value of fans and the almighty dollar in a unified system. Every decision seems to come down to the simple question of whether it will affect the bottom line or the winning line. Each franchise has it’s own precise calculus.

However, the one thing they seem to agree on is that Colin Kaepernick doesn’t meet either of those criteria. But surely that can’t be actually true. Michael Vick was convicted of felony animal cruelty and he met the criteria. Ray Lewis was convicted of an obstruction of justice charge, Kareem Hunt was suspended for assaulting a woman, as was Ezekiel Elliott. They all got a second chance.

Even Chad Kelly, who was arrested in college, and again whilst in his short tenure at the Denver Broncos, received a second chance with the Indianapolis Colts after being suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season.

Colin Kaepernick is seemingly out of the league for making a peaceful protest. He didn’t kill, beat, rape, steal, or assault anyone. He didn’t get charged with murder, drug offenses, or human-trafficking. He took a knee to protest against social injustice. How un-American of him.

Colin Kaepernick's peaceful protest swept through the NFL, but has met with unbelievable resistance
Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest swept through the NFL, but has met with unbelievable resistance

What’s the deal with Colin Kaepernick

There are three arguments used to explain the lack of opportunities for Kaepernick in the NFL:

  1. He’s been out of the league three years already
  2. He’s really just not good enough
  3. He brings too much baggage and drama

Michael Vick played in one game over three seasons while serving a federal prison sentence and league suspension. So clearly that argument is not a deal-breaker. Was Vick a better player? You could argue the merits but statistically, he wasn’t. There were a lot of protests when Vick returned, but that didn’t matter to the Eagles because they believed he gave them a better chance to win.

The NFL is a league full of players with baggage and drama attached to them. This season Antonio Brown has had his own media circus following him from city to city as he has gone off in multiple locations. Now Brown is arguably the most talented WR of his generation, so it would definitely be expected that he would get a second chance.

And while currently out of the league dealing with allegations of sexual assault, Brown will almost certainly get another chance once that is resolved. Why? Because he gives his team a better chance to win.

Baker Mayfield is another example of a player that is a media circus all of his own creation. At every opportunity, Mayfield puts himself in front of a camera and begs people to pay attention to him. Not his team, just him.

So is Kap just not good enough

in 2016, Kaepernick’s last season in the NFL, Blain Gabbert was the other Niners quarterback. Gabbert started the season and was benched after starting the season 1-4 and posting a 3.1% TD rate, and a 3.8% INT rate. Not brilliant. Gabbert, however, would play in the NFL the next two seasons, for two different teams and start 8 games.

In that 2016 season, Colin Kaepernick three 16 TD’s and 4 Int’s, with a TD% of 4.8, and an INT% of 1.2. Far superior to Gabbert’s numbers. That’s not to say Kaepernick was good. He wasn’t. He went 1-10 as a starter and PFF ranked him 52nd for the 2016 season.

Now not all of this was out of Kaepernick’s hands. In March 2017 he opted out of the final year of his San Francisco contract, with the expectation he would get an opportunity with another team.

Kaepernick came up just short in Super Bowl XLVII © Doug Mills/The New York Times
Kaepernick came up just short in Super Bowl XLVII © Doug Mills/The New York Times

He wore a pro-Castro t-shirt and made comments that rightly inflamed the Hispanic community. There was talk of him pricing himself out of other teams’ interest, and of course, there were the protests against social injustice.

But is all that worse than beating a woman, taking drugs, or murdering countless dogs? Apparently for the NFL, and millions of fans, his peaceful protest was too much. Surely not in a country whose first amendment, the very first one, is the “freedom of religion, speech, and the press”.

So it must be that Colin Kaepernick just wasn’t good enough for the NFL. It’s the only logical explanation. Isn’t it?

If we look at a list of some of the quarterbacks that were beneath Kaepernick for the 2016 season, it really has to make you question why he hasn’t received a second chance. That all of these players have signed at least one more contract since Kap has been a free agent, and he hasn’t even got a nibble from his recent workout is mind-boggling.

In fact of the seventeen quarterbacks who PFF graded worse than Colin Kaepernick in 2016, only four didn’t play at least one more season.

Despite all of the claims otherwise, it seems hard to believe that this decision has been based on his on-field actions apart from his taking a knee during the national anthem. And if the United States of America has become a place where a peaceful protest is unacceptable the world has become a much poorer place.

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