This whole Colin Kaepernick ordeal has opened a lot of people’s eyes to the fact that the NFL selects who it will allow to take a stand and who it will not.
Many believe that Kaepernick is being blackballed for the way he chose to protest against police brutality, others would have you believe that he has not found his way onto a team because of his average play the past couple of seasons. The truth is somewhere in the middle because the NFL and other leagues will take the headaches and the distraction from a polarizing player IF the player is worth it.
Michael Sam thought he was going to put it in the face of NFL owners that he is openly gay and force the league to accept him. Being the Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC would normally get a player drafted in the first couple of rounds, but Sam had been evaluated and it had been determined that he was not a difference-maker on the field. Team after team passed on Sam before he was finally taken in the seventh round, pick No. 249 out of 256.
He did not make a humble entrance into the league. With cameras in his home Sam, and his boyfriend embraced on national television after his name was called during the draft. The St. Louis Rams, the team that drafted Sam, eventually cut him despite head coach Jeff Fisher saying that he believed that Sam could play in the NFL. Sam would get picked up by the Dallas Cowboys to only be released again.
Michael Sam was a good player and may have had an average career in the league but he tried to force the NFL to face something that it wasn’t ready for, homosexuality in the locker room of what is supposed to be a manly man’s game. The message was sent that he wasn’t good enough to take that stand.
Tim Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner and a two time national champion while in college at the University of Florida. Many saw him around the league as a Bible thumper. He could be found on the sidelines singing gospel songs and there was always a circus of media that followed him.
Despite winning some games in Denver and defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, Tebow was replaced the next season by an aging Peyton Manning.
Manning would later go on to win the Super Bowl with the Broncos while Tebow bounced around the league. Everywhere he went there was a media scrum with him and his super Christian spirit. He was also shown that he was not worth the headache of unnecessary press and cut by the Jets, Patriots and Eagles until he finally made his way into broadcasting and now minor league baseball.
So what does this say for Colin Kaepernick, a guy that took over Alex Smith’s job (Smith, ironically, is a starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs), took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship in 2013? He followed those seasons with some pretty average play but the average play did not get him on the hot seat.
The heat came when he decided to not stand for the National Anthem due to the police shootings and brutality that was taking place in the African American community. When it was pointed out to him that he was being disrespectful to the many soldiers that fought for him to have the very luxury of not standing, Kaepernick met and talked with some soldiers and decided that he would respectfully take a knee during the anthem. That was not good enough for people because it was still made out to be a big deal by the media. Even coming into this season when Kaepernick stated that would not be taking a knee during the anthem the controversy never died.
So now, you will probably see more and more fans and media begin to scratch their heads as jobs become available and Kaepernick continues to be passed over.
There were rumors that Kaepernick was not getting any offers because he wanted to be a starter, but that never came out of his mouth or anyone in his camp. Even if it did, Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, stated the Kaep should be a starting QB in the league after a workout.
So the talent is there.
After some front office members of the Baltimore Ravens expressed interest in picking him up, team owner Steve Bisciotti admitted that bringing Kaepernick to the team would upset a number of people and said that he was taking a poll from the fans to see if Kaep would be too big of a distraction to bring on. To admit that a guy has talent but will not be considered for a job by the collective group of owners is the definition of being blackballed.
So now, everyone will see what I have been seeing for a long time now… he is not good enough to take a stand that makes the NFL uncomfortable.
Would it be different if it were Tom Brady? Yes, but those big-name guys are advised to not take these type of risks because it would hurt their brand. Cam Newton, Odell Beckham Jr. and guys like them are tied to companies that pay them a lot of money off of the football field and would not do anything to be stripped of those corporate dollars.
So, the guys who probably could take such risks and speak up for different causes, won’t. The rest of the players who do decide to buck the system, as you see, will be tossed out to the streets.
I have my questions about what the NFL Players Association should be doing, but that is for a different time. For now I ask you to just keep your eyes open, watch what happens if a player speaks up about an issue that makes people uncomfortable and if he is somehow released or cut. Think to yourself that he wasn’t good enough to take a stand.