I’ve been sitting on this draft for a few weeks now because I didn’t like how it came out the first time. I’ve also been waiting for the conclusion of Kaepernick’s dance with the Seattle Seahawks to proceed forward. While this title is supposed to be ironic, it’s a bit less so today with the team’s announcement that they signed some garbage white dude with no discernible skills to backup Russell Wilson next year.
Colin Kaepernick is polarizing to the point of ridiculousness at times and I think the conversation around him focuses too much on the flag issue. While yes, that definitely ruffled some feathers and I understand people’s anger with the decision, I think Kap’s meeting with Green-Beret, Nate Boyer should have quieted the noise to an extent. Kaepernick has done quite a bit since that, and I truly believe most of what he’s done has been more significant. I’ll get to that in a few.
Going back to the title of this post, in case it went over your head, the point is to directly tie and compare Kaepernick to another former run-first quarterback who led a team on a surprising playoff run: Tim Tebow.
After a miracle season with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was unceremoniously traded to the New York Jets where even a disaster season and an injury to Mark Sanchez couldn’t get him on the field over some noodle-armed former Crimson Tide QB (I can’t even remember which one). Tebow would get preseason invitations with the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots but was cut before the regular season both times. Tim now does commentary in the fall for the SEC Network and plays baseball in the New York Mets farm system during his time off.
It is likely that Kaepernick and Tebow are jobless for similar reasons even though their supporters are almost certainly more politically polarized than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s. In “click-bait” terms, both guys have been blackballed for taking a knee, though it’s more complicated than that.
- They’re Not Great Back-up Fits – The Seahawks eluded to this in their announcement and it’s not completely farfetched (stay with me here). Kaepernick and Tebow are both notoriously inaccurate with Tebow failing to hit 50% completions in his prolonged stint and Kaepernick generally falling under 60% during his run. Again, before we get too far, Kaepernick is a better NFL QB than Tebow so this is more a “why can’t an NBA team be built around Tobias Harris or Carmelo Anthony” type comparison where there’s clearly a better option. Backup QBs are meant to sit in the pocket and play as a poor man’s version of whoever the defense is playing that week. There aren’t a lot of Russell Wilson/Marcus Mariota types around the league anymore. The read-option revolution is over so a backup whose most valuable skill is that has less value, even if your team might run some.
- A Backup Can’t Carry Headlines – Whether you love or hate Kaepernick or Tebow, the truth is that both are going to be media distractions week-in and week-out. Both have rabid fanbases as evidenced by their jersey sales even when backing up someone else like Blaine Gabbert or Kyle Orton. Unless you want your quarterback situation being turned into a weekly soap opera, your best bet is to look elsewhere.
Listen, again I know that people from both sides will say that they’re apples and oranges, but I’m #TeamLilDickey on this wondering why fruit can’t be compared. I’m neither interested nor qualified – despite my thorough Marx-indoctrination provided by my University of Michigan communications degree – to discuss the complex racial angles and obstacles to Kaepernick’s story that aren’t there with Tebow’s. The thought of sparking a persecution victimhood contest based on two millionaires makes me want to vomit.
What I will do though is take a moment to look beyond Kaepernick’s flag controversy to examine, as well as bring to light, some of the other things he’s done that probably deserve more attention – regardless of what side of the political (gross) aisle you sit on.
The Fidel Shirt – I truly believe this was the biggest mistake Kaepernick made during this entire saga. For starters, it turned a lot of potential sympathetic voices in the national, as well as hispanic media, completely against him. The Orlando Sentinal, Miami Herald, ESPN Personality Dan Le Batard, and many others all came out vocally against him. Le Batard did so even acknowledging that he agreed with Kap’s stance on police brutality. I think Castro belongs on the list of dictators that should never receive any type of praise. Whatever “gains” the Cuban people saw through him were brought on by government mandated oppression, a suppression of free speech, and a mountain of human rights abuses. Castro was an evil dictator who Kaepernick should have avoided any sort of connection with. His “explanation” of the shirt and his follow-up comments made the whole situation worse because it showed a complete lack of education and context of the subject. There have been dictator’s in world history who were staunch animal activists and a “yeah, but….” of them would be inappropriate as well.
The Pig Socks – He wore socks depicting cops as pigs. This was stupid and I think he even admitted that it distracted from his message – which I will take some time right now to say that I don’t entirely disagree with. I’m a big proponent of criminal justice reform and the demilitarizing of the police. We may disagree with details, but I applaud Kap bringing up a subject that effects way too many people.
The Good – This is the part that is overlooked by so many, particularly in the anti-Kaepernick crowd, and I think it’s completely unfair. Whether you agree or disagree with his message and his tactics at times, a couple things are undoubtedly true.
- Kaepernick has protested and spoken peacefully.
- He has backed up his talk with A LOT of positive action.
As of this weekend, he has completed about 3/4 of his pledge to donate a $1,000,000 to various organizations across the world. From food relief funds to legal costs to after-school programs, the list of organizations and causes he’s helped is vast. Some of the less, let’s say politically controversial ones are:
- Homes2Hearts – An organization that works on finding affordable housing for single mothers.
- Meals on Wheels
- Somalia Famine Relief
Many of the organizations he’s donated to may be considered political in nature, but Kap has done some great things like cover for funeral costs, build a library, and pay for kids’ school supplies. Those are all non-controversial acts of kindness, right? We can agree on that?
In addition to his $1,000,000 pledge, he also handed out all of his old suits to parolees looking for work. There are very few things more American than a second chance, and Kap has walked the walk as well as talked the talk on justice reform and second chances for those who want to make a difference after serving their time. I believe there’s a lot admirable in that too. There are lots of people right now whose lives are better because of the actions of Colin Kaepernick. That needs to count for something.
At this point, it looks like barring an injury to a starter, and even then it’s not sure thing, Colin Kaepernick will likely be out of a job this upcoming season. Is that fair? I don’t know; as I said earlier, there are some decent arguments to be made regarding his fit as a backup, but the dude is significantly better than Blaine Gabbert or Austin Davis, or Brock Osweiler, or Sam Bradford, or etc etc etc. If there’s a place for them in the league, there should be one for Colin. He’s had a lot of success in the past, had a decent statistical year last year considering the dumpster fire he was stuck in, and has seemingly reclaimed a lot of the respect from his teammates that he’d reportedly lost the year before all this even blew up.
With all that, maybe Colin should take a page from Tebow. Go play baseball! The Cubs drafted him in the 43rd round of the 2009 draft and actually had discussions with his representation on joining the organization. Joe Maddon and Kap would be a perfect fit.
And, if baseball doesn’t work out, maybe he should start going by his middle name. The quickest way to the right’s heart seems to be the name Rand.