Colin Kaepernick’s phone has been silent this offseason, according to reports. Considering his poor stats as a quarterback and the endless controversy surrounding the former 49ers player, it will likely stay that way.
Yet some sportswriters still keep bringing Kaepernick’s name into the conversation.
Even though the NFL has moved on from the man who started the national anthem-kneeling protests in the league — the media haven’t.
On Tuesday, the Miami New Times ran a column about why the Miami Dolphins need to sign Kaepernick in order to turn their franchise’s image around — seriously.
Author Ryan Yousefi wrote:
It’s truly embarrassing for the NFL, and the Dolphins individually, that Kaepernick — a young, strong, and mobile quarterback who led a team to the Super Bowl only a few years ago — doesn’t get as much as a workout or a phone call, while a guy like Mike Glennon gets an $8 million deal in an offseason after the Bears gave him $18.5 million to win one game and get benched for a rookie. [Former Fins quarterback Chad] Henne has thrown only a few passes in the past couple years, yet teams are fighting for his services. How does any of this make sense?
Yousefi uses a straw man argument, but the fallacy here is that one mistake doesn’t justify another.
He is also not the only sportswriter, and that publication is not the only outlet calling for a team to sign Kaepernick. In the past month, ESPN and The Washington Post have done the same.
ESPN decided Kaepernick is a good backup quarterback option for the pass-first Oakland Raiders because he’s athletic. Sure, he’s athletic, but he’s not a particularly great football player. In 2016, he went 1-10 in 11 games starting for the San Francisco 49ers and got benched twice in favor of Blaine Gabbert, who spent the 2017 season as the third-string quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals.
Plus, Kaepernick fumbled nine times and posted a 49.3 QBR (quarterback rating), which ranked 23rd among 30 qualified NFL quarterbacks. It’s a competitive league, so teams typically move on quickly from athletes like Kaepernick.
At the beginning of the month, The Washington Post ran a column titled “Why Colin Kaepernick May Be Just What the NFL Needs.”
The piece said, in part:
Might a choice for Kaepernick — even as a backup QB — be seen as a socially progressive stand, distinguishing one franchise from the other 31 to a new, diverse, and younger audience? Could a team become an “employer of choice” in a league where African-American talent dominates? With viewership on the decline and the average viewer age of 50, the NFL, as a whole, should act soon.
Right — because the guy most responsible for the league’s 15 percent drop in viewership over a two-year span is now going to be the guy to fix the NFL’s ratings problem.
Ticket sales were down nearly 1,000 fans per game this past season, and television revenue dropped by around $500 million, according to Fox Sports.
Remember, the players kneeling for the national anthem were following Kaepernick’s lead. Plus, according to a UBS survey conducted in February, the top reason fans gave for not watching football games anymore was the national anthem protests.
Along with his supporters in the media, Kaepernick had a surprising critic recently — none other than former 49ers running back O.J. Simpson.
“I think Colin made a mistake,” Simpson told The Buffalo News in a surprising interview. “I really appreciate what he was trying to say. I thought he made a bad choice in attacking the flag. I grew up at a time when deacons were in the KKK. I don’t disrespect the Bible because of those guys. The flag shouldn’t be disrespected because of what cops do. The flag represents what we want America to be.”
Considering his past, it’s hard to take much of anything Simpson says seriously — but when even he has turned against an athlete’s actions, you know there’s a problem.
If Kaepernick never kneeled, then maybe he’d have a job in the league as a backup quarterback somewhere, but not for close to the $14.5 million he was slated to make in 2017 (had the 49ers kept him).
When a player disrespects the police and veterans, he is not easily forgiven by fans. When a player costs the league hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, that person is not easily forgiven by the owners.
When a player disrespects the police and veterans, he’s not easily forgiven by fans.
It is likely Kaepernick’s name will keep appearing in the news for another season or so — before he finally becomes as irrelevant to the sports media as he is to the actual fans.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.