If you believe the media, the National Football League has a duty – an obligation, really – to provide employment for (former) quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
It’s been three months since he opted out of his contract (49ers’ version: they were going to cut him anyway).
Then he sat down – or took a knee, whatever – and waited for the phone to ring. And waited. And waited. And waited.
He’s still waiting. The Seattle Seahawks gave him a sniff recently, but decided to pass. Coach Pete Carroll says it’s because Kaepernick is a starter and the Seahawks already have a starter.
You mean former starters can’t be backups? What do they think he’s been doing most of the last two years? Maybe Carroll is just heading off a potential quarterback controversy.
The New York Jets, desperate for a quarterback, preferred to sign 37-year-old Josh McCown rather than Kaepernick.
The Cleveland Browns have had 26 starting quarterbacks since the rebirth of the franchise in Cleveland in 1999. They passed on Kaepernick. They prefer Brock Osweiler.
The Cardinals passed on Kaepernick, too, instead signing Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick replaced Gabbert as the 49ers starter last season and threw 16 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
Joe Namath, it seems, will be offered a backup job before Kaepernick.
Anyway, the media has adopted Kaepernick as its latest pet cause. They’re always looking for causes as long as it is the right (actually left) kind.
The media can’t write enough stories about Kaepernick’s employment problem. They think he’s been blackballed because last season he refused to stand for the national anthem. He said he was protesting against “systematic oppression” of minorities and calling for “freedom for all people,” although he wound up looking ridiculous when he showed up at a press conference wearing a Fidel Castro T-shirt and then proceeded to defend him.
Kaepernick became the hot story of the football season and triggered copycats from the high school ranks to the pros and a controversy that even included comment from the president of the United States.
At the time, many defended Kaepernick by saying he had a right to free speech, although this was nonsense because speech is protected from governments, not employers, which is why some NFL owners ordered their players to stand-down. The NFL, which fines players if they wear their socks the wrong way, also invoked Kaepernick’s free speech rights and left him alone.
And so Kaepernick continued his protest throughout the season and became a polarizing figure. Right before he became a free agent in March he said he would stand for the anthem from now on. But where? In his family room?
It would be difficult to argue that Kaepernick can’t find a job because of his anthem protest. How else do you explain the lack of interest in a quarterback who has taken a team to the Super Bowl and, despite some very poor performances, is still a fairly solid quarterback and certainly better than many who have been signed by various teams. And teams have overlooked a lot worse to sign players or keep them around (Michael Vick, Johnny Manziel, Ray Lewis, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, Adam Jones).
But if teams were, in fact, refusing to sign Kaepernick because of his political stand, so what?
The media has got it wrong. If players are going to claim they have the right to express their views on NFL sidelines, then NFL teams have the right to express their own views by not employing them. They have the right to disagree.
It would be refreshing if an NFL team simply came out with it and said: We don’t want him because we disagree with the stance he took last season and/or he’s a distraction.
Employees can do as they wish, but there are potential consequences. This is the way of the world. How many times have we seen members of the media fired – see ESPN – for expressing views that their bosses didn’t like, especially when it’s from the “wrong” side of the aisle? And now the media wants to tell the NFL it is somehow obligated to employ a certain quarterback who offended many of its customers with words and actions?
Kaepernick had to know the risks; now he has to live with it.
Credit: By Doug Robinson Deseret News
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