Colin Kaepernick is either overconfident about his ability to play football — or wants to hog the spotlight for as long as possible.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback garnered attention this week when he decided to file a 12-page grievance against the NFL owners for collusion. Not only did Kaepernick point to NFL brass for keeping him out of the league this season, but his legal team even went so far as to blame President Donald Trump.
“The owners of respondent NFL teams have been quoted describing their communications with President Trump, who has been an organizing force in the collusion among team owners in their conduct towards Mr. Kaepernick and other NFL players,” said a snippet of a public statement from Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos. “Owners have described the Trump administration as causing paradigm shifts in their views toward NFL players.”
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Kaepernick’s legal team is referencing comments Trump made at a September 22 rally in Alabama about the NFL’s national anthem kneelers. At that time, however, Kaepernick — who started the NFL’s anthem-kneeling protests back in 2016 — still remained unsigned. Teams did not show much interest in him during the offseason after he opted out of his seven-year, $126 million contract this past March.
During the 2015 and 2016 NFL seasons, Kaepernick’s play deteriorated and he was dead weight on the 49ers roster. In 2016 he was ranked 23rd out of 30 starting quarterbacks, as his team went 2-14. Last year, he was benched twice in favor of Blaine Gabbert — who is now the Arizona Cardinals’ third-string quarterback. Gabbert had initially beat him out for the starting quarterback job and started the first five games of the season.
Kaepernick was benched again in favor of Gabbert last December after throwing for only four yards in three quarters against the Chicago Bears.
Many NFL teams prefer young backup quarterbacks, who might potentially develop into starters. Kaepernick does not fit that description. Plus, he is a polarizing figure, one who would bring negative attention to any franchise that signed him. After all, a JD Power poll of over 9,000 people revealed the top reason people tuned out of NFL games last season was that players protested the national anthem.
It was not just Kaepernick’s kneeling that brought him negative press, either. In 2016, he wore socks that depicted police officers as pigs — and shirts that glorified former Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro. In America, hating police officers and promoting an ideology that led to several million deaths in the 20th century is not the best way to gain popularity.
Kaepernick also should have seen what the league had done to a less controversial player who also garnered significant attention: Tim Tebow. The devout Christian quarterback kneeled on the field to pray and was ostracized by many, to the point that NFL teams wanted nothing to do with him. The Denver Broncos even released Tebow just two years after drafting him, even though he led the team to a playoff win in the 2011 season.
Tebow was out of the league following the 2012 season, so Kaepernick should have known teams tend to stay away from players who inspire any sort of debate or controversy. However, to be fair, there’s a huge difference between a football player praying on the field and another kneeling for the anthem and wearing divisive clothing.
The negative attention Kaepernick’s presence attracts would likely hurt a team’s revenue. NFL television ratings through the first six weeks of the season are already down 7.5 percent from last year, according to ESPN, so it is unlikely the league wants to see those ratings drop further.
Kaepernick blames Trump as a major reason he does not have a job in the NFL this year — which implies that he would have a job if the 2016 election had gone the other way and Hillary Clinton had been ushered into office. This is flawed logic: Kneeling was also a negative PR move in 2016 when Barack Obama was still in the White House. Neither Obama nor Clinton have condemned kneeling in the same way that President Trump has, but that does not change how strongly millions of Americans feel about respecting the country’s military, our first responders, and our history.
If Kaepernick wants someone to blame for not having a job right now, he can take a look in the mirror. If he does not see by now that it is his own fault, there’s a problem.