NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is insistent. Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment is due to each organization weighing the quarterback solely on merit and potential — nothing else. Goodell made the assertion two months ago at the owners meetings and reiterated it last week.
“It’s the same thing I said before, which is each team makes individual decisions about how they can improve their team,” he told Pro Football Talk. “And if they see an opportunity to improve their team, I think they do it. They evaluate players, they evaluate systems and coaches, and they all make those individuals decisions to try to improve their team.”
If you say Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem have nothing to do with his failure to find a job, you sound dumber than Goodell.
The value and scarcity of good quarterbacks have never been greater. As a result, numerous contracts have been signed by the halfway decent and totally inept. Only 14 QBs have compiled a higher career rating than Kaepernick (88.9) since 2011. Yet, he’s unworthy to be a backup?
There’s no need for a charade. Holding his kneeldowns against him is exceedingly weak, but NFL brass should be big enough to admit their flawed logic and take the beatdown they deserve.
Goodell is too cowardly to state the obvious. So allow New York Giants co-owner John Mara to explain teams’ refusal to sign Kaepernick. Mara told Sports Illustrated that the Giants never discussed the former 49ers quarterback but fans were clear about their stance on posture during the Star-Spangled Banner.
“All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” Mara told SI. “‘If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.’ It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into.”
Let that sink in. The Giants are the team that re-signed kicker John Brown despite his confessed domestic abuse of his wife. They didn’t cut him until police documents were released and painted an unflattering picture. “He admitted to us he’d abused his wife in the past,” Mara said after Brown was cut last October. “What’s a little unclear is the extent of that.”
I guess the Giants figured Brown’s past transgressions weren’t “that bad.” They certainly didn’t mention being flooded with letters from an incensed fan base that threatened to leave and never return. But even if the Giants were in the market for a backup quarterback, kowtowing to dissenters is no way to operate.
Suppose a team signed a Muslim player who conducted interviews in a turban and shouted in Arabic when he got excited. Every fan who complained and vowed to boycott should be escorted by the owner to the picket lines. Mara and his peers shouldn’t let principles be determined by the warped thinking of team supporters. Better if those fans take that mindset and root for another franchise.
Owners don’t shy from players like Brown, Michael Vick and Cincinnati Bengals halfback Joe Mixon. NFL teams routinely provide second chances to offenders once the criminal justice system has been satisfied.
Remorse is nice but it doesn’t always apply (see: Greg Hardy). The only prerequisite is talent and a belief that the player can be beneficial, regardless of the optics or PR hit. Wins will take care of the rest.
How long do you think Tom Brady would be unemployed if he was cut after kneeling during the national anthem? How many fans would be outraged and give up their season tickets if their team signed him?
The correct answers are “seconds” and “none.”
A non-violent statement on civil rights is not equivalent to domestic violence or any crime. But it makes no sense that kneeling is tantamount to a blackball while the latter just might reduces players’ options by a few.
Kaepernick gladly would pay his debt to society if it existed. Instead, he keeps paying on his $1 million pledge to charities. What a bad apple!
By the way, his interest in social justice allegedly is a red flag, like his diet, his work ethic and his reliance on a particular style of offense. The lengths that teams go to disparage him are amazing. They’ll do anything to avoid admitting that his politics and the public’s perception are the sole factors.
Granted, many fans are enjoying this. They believe that Kaepernick is getting what he deserves for being “unpatriotic” and “disrespectful.” But they’re so blind, they can’t see difference between stars and stripes.
It doesn’t matter that military members have defended him with the #VeteransForKapernick hashtag. It doesn’t matter that the protest ran its course and he said it won’t be continued. It doesn’t matter that the 49ers players awarded him with the most prestigious team honor, previously won by the likes of Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young and Ronnie Lott.
No. The only thing that matters is Kaepernick remains unemployed.
But don’t get it twisted: Football isn’t the reason.
• Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.