If you’ve heard Episode 14 you know two things: 1) Britt rushed to talk about anything at all this week because he did not get his numbers ready in time and 2) Britt finally lost it about Colin Kapernick. Understanding that there is limited ability to articulate in detail during a podcast which requires beer consumption, I decided to do a post about my take. These are my personal opinions about Colin Kapernick and you are free to disagree with me, I just want to be honest about what I see and what I fear. Please take into account that reading this may be tough, but it was also tough to write it.
I’ve come to the conclusion that one of two statements are true: Either Colin Kapernick is not an NFL quality Quarterback OR The politics, demonstrations and ‘distraction’ of Colin Kapernick is prohibiting NFL teams from considering him. I don’t know which is true, all I know if I’m tired of talking about it and its still talked about a lot.
Let’s start by considering that he may not be worthy of an NFL job. This is hard to believe while guys like Dan Orvlovsky continue to find work as a third string player. I love Dan O by the way, I went to UConn, I was a season ticket holder when they won the Motor City Bowl, but that was a long time ago and I think Dan would be better served trying to get into coaching rather than continue playing. The Jaguars just signed Ryan Nassib, I don’t even know who that is!?! Can he really be a better option that Kap? Now I’ve never spoken with Colin Kapernick, its entirely possible that he would refuse to be a third string QB making league minimum, its possible that his personal ego prohibits him from taking an offer that he considers low balling, but I doubt it. I’ve been unemployed, when I was unemployed, I’d have taken a moldy piece of bread as payment just to get back on my feet. So there is the possibility that pride and perceived value play into this but I seriously doubt it. Supporting the ‘no one has called’camp is the reports from Jacksonville at the start of September where Tom Coughlin claimed to have researched Colin but declined to say why he would not bring him in. Thats the equivalent of saying, “Its a football decision, but I don’t have a football reason.” and it supports the other side of the argument…..
Colin Kapernick is a distraction, I’m sorry, but there is no denying it. I will not say his protests or statements last season were a mistake because they were not, they brought attention to an issue that needed to be looked at. However, look at what has happened since: dozens of players have been asked for comment, coaches have had to take questions about what they believe during press conferences where they just want to talk about blitz packages and TV coverage have centered on any player who joined into the protest. Watch any NFL game, if there is a single player sitting or kneeling during the anthem they are shown prominently and then named during the broadcast, every time. Three years ago, some networks didn’t even broadcast the anthem! Now its much watch. So we have the media to thank/blame for part of the distraction. They are the guys standing in locker rooms or at a press conference or scanning the sidelines for the one guy protesting, there is absolutely no doubt that it has become a distraction for teams who thrive on focus and that its partly the media making sure we hear and see everything about it.
But is distraction enough? Plenty of players have been a distraction in the past. Terrell Owens was such a distraction that it completely overshadowed his greatness. Chad Johnson was so self obsessed with distraction that he changed his last name! Both of them had jobs for long periods of time in the NFL. Ricky Williams (coughing), Brian Bozworth (image over play), Tom Brady (yes, the G.O.A.T. was a major distraction during Deflategate), Marshawn Lynch (media interaction), Odell Beckham (kicking net saga), I could literally go one for HOURS about guys who have posed a distraction for their team at some point in their career and were still employed. But there are guys who think that the potential does not outweigh the distraction. LeSean McCoy said that this year to SI (another example of media bringing it up). He was very clear that he considered Kapernick to be good but not good enough to put up with the constant questions. So where does the distraction factor outweigh the potential benefit to the team? I don’t know, I just know that distraction is tossed around an awful lot as the reason why guys named Nassib get signed and he doesn’t.
Finally, the other possibility, and the most troubling one, is that the race/politics angle is the reason. Kapernick stood up to point out racial issues in our country while working for an organization run by old white people. Its a possibility, one I hate to consider but its there. The President of the United States, who is the epitome of ‘old white person’ in our country had reveled in Kap being unsigned. He’s proud of the possibility that a man from a different culture challenging the status quo can be held jobless for his views. That should be concerning to anyone.
And make no mistake, this is not a white vs. black issue, its a ‘those in power’ vs. ‘those not in power’ issue; it just so happens that the issue Kapernick is pointing at is race and therefore anyone who does not match the race of ‘those in power’ is on the other side. We see this throughout our history in rich vs. poor, land owners vs non-land owners; whenever you have a group in control and someone not in control challenges their authority, there is push back. Go back to Rome, senators had to be land owners, they controlled the power; no one stood up in the Roman Senate and said, “Hey guys, we should really give everybody a chance to vote for who makes the laws.”, it simply doesn’t happen. Its really no different than when there is a labor dispute in sports, its a battle between the rich and powerful owners and the “rich but not power holding” players, its the same thing, its challenging the status quo. But the issue raised here is one of race and so it becomes an issue of race in this discussion and that makes me really sad, but its a possibility. Racial issue need to be discussed in our country, equality for everyone needs to be addressed, but you are always going to have resistance from those in power. If you really think we have true equality in America at this point, I think you really need to take a long hard look at the state of our country, thats my opinion and I really think that it is time for our leaders to really have a discussion on how to approach the situation. It hasn’t happened yet, but I remain hopeful that someone in Rome stands up and does the right thing.
So why is Kapernick not employed? Is he not NFL quality? Is the media imposed distraction a deterrent? Is this racism? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. My optimistic side wants to consider the first two possibilities and disregard the third. We have to be more advanced as a society than this, right? But we’re not and that makes me really sad, its a possibility that a black quarterback angered a whole bunch of rich white guys and is now unemployed as a result. I wish I could dismiss that possibility, but we can’t and the longer this saga plays out, the more and more likely it becomes that this is an issue of racism. What we need is a team to reach out to him and say, “Hey, come in and see us. If you want to protest during the anthem, go right ahead, but we expect you to keep the focus on your job. When the media asks you about your views after a game, you tell them you’re there for football and then conduct the social activism outside the locker room.” I think Kapernick would understand that, eventually the media will stop asking and Kapernick can continue to bring attention to a very important issue.
Of the 32 owners in the NFL, 31 are considered white, leaving only the owner of the Jaguars as a minority owner. The problem there is that his team is run by the aforementioned Tom Coughlin who is absolutely an old white guy and is already on record saying he won’t sign Kapernick. So we are in a bit of a stalemate. What we need is a Dan Rooney right now, he was the owner of the Steelers who famously stood up and questioned why all the coaches were white guys years ago. We need an owner to stand up and say, “I’m ending this discussion right now, invite him in for a public workout.”. Until then the questions will circle, the wondering will continue and the issues that divide us will continue to expand. And I will continue to struggle with this question and I will continue to feel sad, I had hoped we were better than this as a nation, I was wrong.
Post script – I want to be clear these are the issues I struggle with in this discussion. I know many of you feel differently one way or the other. It is not a simple issue, but staying silent on it is not the solution either, ignoring issues in society only leads to their continuation. Whether you think I’m wrong for not screaming “They’re all racists!!!” or I’m wrong for even suggesting race plays an issue, I wrote this piece to try and get the conversation moving so that it can be over. It is a disheartening shame that in 2017, we even have to consider the possibility of racists controlling a business like the NFL, we gotta figure it out and nothing has ever been figured out in silence.