Kaepernick’s unemployment: football or politics?

Brook Ward/Flickr Creative Commons

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Saggy pants, boy bands, the dab… I remember when these fads went out of style and when they’re here, everyone gets consumed by them. However, life moves on, and one thing replaces another. That is why the Colin Kaepernick situation is the way it is and the game of football has moved on, leaving Kaepernick behind. Let me explain.

In 2012, Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to a near Super Bowl victory, coming up short 34-31 against the Baltimore Ravens. By 2015, Kaepernick had been beaten by Blaine Gabbert for the starting job of the 49ers. While in the role of a backup, Kaepernick began protesting the National Anthem before preseason games in 2016 by sitting down and eventually switching to kneeling during the course of the Anthem. The reason for his protest was the mishandling of police violence directed towards Black people across the country.

In March of 2017, Kaepernick opted out of his contract, and decided to become a free agent. Ever since, the 29 year old has not been signed, and serious talks with teams like Baltimore, Miami, and Seattle have fallen through.  

Thus, the million dollar question was born: Is Kaepernick being discriminated because of his protest? My answer, I hope not.

Kaepernick 100 percent had the right to protest police brutality and I absolutely agree with his statements that police brutality is a major issue in America today. Police brutality is so common, that even NFL players are not exempt from injustice. Michael Bennet, a Super Bowl champion Defensive Lineman for the Seattle Seahawks, released a statement last week that he was wrongfully tackled at gunpoint by Las Vegas PD officers for running away from gunfire after the Mayweather/McGregor fight. Situations like that are just the reason Kaepernick spoke up to bring attention to these horrible acts in hope to stop them.

However, am I surprised that Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster? No, not at all.

Kaepernick was part of a quarterback fad. It was obvious that he was most comfortable running the read option in his days of success. The read option is a popular College Football style where the quarterback will analyze the defense, and make a snap decision whether to hand the ball of to his running back, or keep it himself and run the opposite way. Colin Kaepernick is the perfect player for read option plays; 6’4’’, 230 pounds, and quick.

While option quarterbacks were all the rage in the early 2010’s, like all fads, they fizzled out.

Defenses figured out how to neutralize players like Kaepernick, and read option runners were replaced with a new breed; hybrid players like Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Sam Darnold who are mobile quarterbacks that can also throw the ball deep downfield. Just look at players similar to Kaepernick like Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, and Geno Smith, who are all free agents due to the evolution of the quarterback position.

You can really see the dropoff in Kaepernick’s stats from the 2014 season, to the 2015 season, the last year he was the starter. Kaepernick went from throwing for 3,369 yards to throwing 1,615 the next season. Also, his main threat (rushing), also suffered, seeing a total decrease of 383 yards. Kaepernick’s all-purpose touchdowns also dropped. He had 20 total touchdowns in 2014, only to respond with 7 touchdowns the next year. Kaepernick’s average yards per pass also decreased, from his career high 8.3 yards per play to 6.6 yards per play.

Part of the problem is that Kaepernick thinks he is worth more than his play shows. In 2016, the Denver Broncos offered Kaepernick $7 million to compete for a starting job. The Denver Broncos, who had just won the Super Bowl, needed to replace legendary Quarterback Peyton Manning after he retired. The Broncos are a quarterback’s dream; legendary defense, above-average offensive line, two fantastic receivers, and a decent running game to go along with it.

However, Kaepernick thought that the $7 million was too low and rejected the deal.

To sum up this whole situation, Colin Kaepernick is not good enough to be in the NFL. In football, talent overrides everything. For example, the Dallas Cowboys took heat in 2016 for signing domestic abuser Greg Hardy. However, Hardy was an amazing defensive lineman, and thus found a job. Ray Lewis was accused of murder in 2000, but he remained on the Ravens roster, and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest Linebackers in NFL history, winning a Super Bowl in 2012.

The NFL has signed players who have done things much, much worse than Kaepernick, but were much better players than Kaepernick. The teams that signed those players saw NFL caliber players, so they signed them. If an NFL team sees that Kaepernick is good enough to get signed, he will get what is fair.

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