The Colin Kaepernick Story: NFL + SJW = WTF

When the political arena and the football stadium intersect

By now everyone and their mother has heard of former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who made a splash in the NFL a few years ago just as the league saw an influx of young, mobile quarterbacks bringing a devastating running threat to their offensive arsenal. Anyone who knows football knows that the game is constantly evolving, and different strategies and styles of play get extremely popular and then fizzle out as the competition makes adjustments. The talent pool of the NFL is so insane that veteran players must constantly improve or they risk being replaced by faster, fresher players coming out of the college ranks. Savvy veterans realize that the best way to stave off threats to their starting positions is to capitalize on their mental game. The best players on the field are not always the most physically gifted. But they almost always have the best technique and mental preparation.  

This is a lesson Colin Kaepernick never cared to learn. When Kaepernick made his first start in 2012, relieving an injured Alex Smith, he promptly went 5-2. The “Read-Option” was getting very hot in the NFL, and nobody ran it better than Colin Kaepernick. It’s worth noting that the 49ers were a VERY strong team at this time and had reached the NFC Championship game in 2011, before losing to the eventual 2011 Champions New York Giants. The 2012 49ers retained their exceptionally strong defense, which along with Kaepernick’s electric performance in the playoffs, propelled the team to Super Bowl XLVII. (Kaepernick would end up throwing a last-second interception to end the game.) In 2013, Kaepernick put up decent numbers, and the 49ers returned to the NFC Championship game where Kaepernick would once again throw a last-second interception to end the game.

By 2014, NFL defenses had fully adjusted to mobile quarterbacks such as Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton. Newton and Wilson would continue to enjoy success in the NFL as they ran the ball less and got more accurate with their passes. Kaepernick, on the other hand, regressed. Passing had been a lot easier in the previous years because defenses were worried about Kaepernick’s running game. Now that defenses had evolved, they were FORCING Kaepernick to beat opponents with his arm . . . something that he just wasn’t prepared to do. Kaepernick’s ability to feel the pass rush, along with his “pocket presence,” were disastrous. He struggled to read the defense and made poor decisions overall. In 2014, Kaepernick went 8-8, followed by an injury-plagued 2015 in which Colin posted a 2-6 record.   

Enter: social justice.

In 2016, Kaepernick lost his starting job to free agent Blaine Gabbert. It was around this time that Kaepernick decided to protest standing for the national anthem. Rumor has it that the move was inspired by Kaepernick’s MTV/Radio host girlfriend “Nessa.” Nessa is half Egyptian, half black, and fully outspoken about social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Although Kaepernick’s national anthem protest made headlines around the country, it wasn’t explained very well by Kaepernick himself—who by his own admission didn’t vote in the last election.

Kaepernick said of his protest: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” And just like that—Kaepernick immediately became a hero to millions of disgruntled black Americans around the country.   

Today, Kaepernick is more known for his social justice advocacy than his QB play. But that hasn’t stopped his militant black fans from decrying the overt racism in the fact that Kaepernick has not yet been signed to a team for 2017. Kaepernick supporters believe that NFL team owners are colluding to ensure that nobody signs Kaepernick. Although this could be true, it’s most likely just a theory.

There are a couple things that theses contract hawks should be aware. First, Kaepernick was not cut by the 49ers—he actually opted out of his contact. Second, people are quick to point out that there are a lot of sub-par QB’s in the NFL who serve as backups, and the argument is that Kaepernick is definitely skilled enough to be a backup somewhere. What this argument doesn’t consider is that every team has a very difficult time cutting down to a 53-man roster. Some teams have three QBs on the roster, others have only two. Most teams DO NOT spend a lot of money on the backup QB. And more often than not teams will gamble going into the season with an unproven rookie as backup QB because the likelihood of the backup actually playing is very, very low. So yes, it’s definitely possible that Kaepernick is better than a few backups who are currently on a roster in the NFL. That being said, the biggest reason NOT to sign Kaepernick is the risk of the ensuing public relations nightmare, as well as having once loyal fans potentially boycott the season!   

The bottom line is that the NFL is a business. The business model only works if millions of fans continue to watch and follow the game. Last year Kaepernick’s protest cost the NFL millions of dollars in lost revenues from fans who stopped watching because they were disgusted with Kaepernick’s protest. Who knows how much revenue the 49ers lost last year from fans who refused to go attend home games in the wake of Kaepernick’s protests? Why in God’s name would an NFL team take a chance on a pariah who hates America? If Colin Kaepernick’s calling is social justice, than he will have plenty of opportunities to annoy us OUTSIDE of the game America loves. The 2017 NFL season will be much better without the likes of Colin Kaepernick.

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