The anthem-kneeling Colin Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season.
Yet his name has continued making mainstream media headlines in the run-up to Super Bowl 53 on Sunday.
During their sports coverage this week, ABC, CBS and NBC all spent time discussing Kaepernick — though he has no connection at all to the NFL at the moment.
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Instead, they focused on the NFL’s image, the fact that no one has signed the quarterback, and the backlash that certain left-wingers have had to endure while Kaepernick is still a free agent.
Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, even made an appearance on NBC earlier in the week to speak about the former quarterback’s ongoing collusion lawsuit against the NFL.
In his argument, Geragos referenced President Donald Trump and said, “The collusion actually was the NFL kowtowing to the president. I mean, it’s clear … Anybody who’s got a couple of neurons firing wouldn’t say this is collusive activity.”
Kaepernick is now known primarily for kneeling during the singing of the national anthem before games throughout the 2016 season — and he’s been unemployed ever since.
Yet NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week claimed teams are free to sign him if they want, even though his statline in his final NFL season is unremarkable for a veteran player. His 49.3 quarterback rating ranked him 23rd among 30 qualified QBs; his nine fumbles in 11 starts were an issue; and the San Francisco 49ers went 1-10 in his 11 starts that season.
In addition, the league’s TV ratings dropped more than 17 points in a two-year span (2016 and 2017), primarily in response to Kaepernick’s kneeling and disrespect for the American flag and the country — which then spread to other players across the league.
But that has not stopped singers like Jay-Z, Rihanna, Cardi B, and others from refusing to perform at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show in solidarity with the now-unemployed gunslinger.
Meanwhile, Maroon 5, Big Boy and Travis Scott are set to perform this year — and NBC’s Craig Melvin wondered if this should be considered a “personal affront” against Kaepernick.
By now, noted Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo on Friday night on “The Ingraham Angle,” the former quarterback should be largely irrelevant.
“I’ve never seen a non-affiliated athlete talked about more since [former Notre Dame football defensive end] Rudy [Ruettiger],” Arroyo said of Kaepernick. “This guy — they’re still talking about Kaepernick. It’s really ridiculous. The public has moved on.”
“People don’t want politics in football. They don’t want it. They have politics every minute of the day in this society through social media.”
Former Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl champion Joe Theismann told host Laura Ingraham why he thinks the Kaepernick issue remains so hot at the beginning of 2019.
“I don’t think the issue is going to be put on the backburner, or in the backseat or anywhere out of people’s minds, until possibly the entire collusion case is settled,” he said. “And I think there is always going to be an issue. We know that there are social injustices that need to be worked on in this country. That is no question. We are trying to move forward in an era to try to handle those things.”
“And I think as Colin Kaepernick made the decision and the choice to do what he did, I think we have to honor and respect that Maroon 5 made a choice to decide what they wanted to do,” he added. “And if we say to Colin Kaepernick, ‘The flag has represented this country and the people in this country are able to have the freedoms to say and do the things they want to do,’ I don’t understand why that wouldn’t apply to the guys who want to perform at halftime.”
Ingraham noted that people don’t watch football to see what Kaepernick thinks about politics.
“People don’t want politics in football,” she said. “They don’t want it. They have politics every minute of the day in this society through social media. This is a time for all of us to enjoy a game, see that sheer athleticism and all of the hard work these players, both teams, have put in. And watch this amazing game. And I think that is part of it.”
“Nothing against Colin Kaepernick, and I’m sure he is a nice person, and nothing against what he believes in or any player believes in,” she added, “but there has to be some moment where people take a breath and say, ‘We are Americans.’ Let’s all get together and root for whoever we want to root for and have a good time. I think the exhaustion with politics is part of what’s going on here.”
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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, and other outlets.