Honestly I don’t even know where to start with my thoughts on Kaepernick. This is not a column to bash him or what he stands for by any means, but simply to call into question his morality when he is faced with adversity in his life, and his choice of timing in his protest of sitting during the playing of the national anthem.
I believe in The United States that freedom of speech is a right that all citizens should enjoy to the fullest. Simply put, the message Kaepernick has portrayed in the national media, and to the world is a relatively good message. We need change, and we need it now.
The war on terror is a sham, minorities are oppressed in today’s society, and most importantly our troops should always be praised for the sacrifices they have and are currently making, whether the war is believed to be just or not. And truly I believe that Colin Kaepernick can speak his mind however he sees fit, that right is his, due to the freedoms he has as a United States citizen.
However, when a former star and currently struggling athlete is known to be generally somewhat self-centered in their approach to life and the game of football, it calls into question the way Kaepernick proceeded to almost out of the blue care about the causes and struggles that do plague our once great country.
Colin Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Heidi Russo, a 19-year-old single white woman. Kaepernick’s biological father was not present in his life from day one, therefore his biological mother put him up for adoption to which his adopted parents took over – Rick and Teresa Kaepernick.
Under their guidance as parents, Colin took off to begin what seemed to be a promising career in the sport of football. Kaepernick even was noted to write a letter to himself at a young age, where he predicted he would be a starting NFL quarterback for either the Packers or 49ers.
After a hugely successful four years attending college at Nevada, Colin was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 draft.
His career with the 49ers pointed toward even more success than he had already achieved at the college level. As just in his second year in the NFL, he took over the reigns for an injured Alex Smith in week 10, and became the starting quarterback for the 49ers, completing his childhood prediction.
That very same year, he finished the season with 1,814 passing yards, 10 passing TDs, 3 INT, 415 rushing yards, and 5 rushing TDs, en route to a Superbowl appearance, where he ultimately fell short to the Superbowl champion Ravens, losing 34-31.
Kaepernick continued his successes in 2013, playing his first full season in the NFL and posting a stat line of 3,197 passing yards, 21 passing TDs, 8 INT, 524 rushing yards, and 4 rushing TDs. The 49ers would lose in the NFC championship game to the Seahawks on an interception thrown by Kaepernick.
After the 2013 season it all went downhill for the 49ers and their young budding star of a quarterback. On June 4, 2014, Kaepernick signed a six year contact with the 49ers, worth up to $126 million, with $54 million in potential guarantees, and $13 million fully guaranteed. This contract has Kaepernick signed through 2020 season.
The 49ers failed to make playoffs after being early season favorites in 2014, and head coach and big Kaepernick supporter Jim Harbaugh, would elect to leave the 49ers to return to coaching at the college level once again.
Kaepernick would post a 2014 stat line of: 16 games played, 3,369 passing yards, 19 passing TDs, 10 INT, 639 rushing yards, and 1 rushing TD – missing the playoffs for an underwhelming 8-8 regular season record. This would be the last year Kaepernick would see any true successes at the quarterback position.
This past season, 2015, under the tutelage of first time head coach Jim Tomsula, Kaepernick seemed to be in a make or break year for his NFL career. In week 8 of the regular season, Kaepernick was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert (10th overall pick of the 2011 draft and still currently the 49ers starting quarterback). The 49ers finished the season with a 5-11 regular season record, missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. Some speculated that the new offensive system was not a good fit for Kaepernick, as he struggled mightily.
Kaepernick would post a stat line last year of: 1,615 passing yards, 6 passing TDs, 5 INTs, 256 rushing yards, and only one rushing TD within his span of starts that season.
Fast forward to pre-season of the 2016 NFL season, currently under the six year contact that Kaepernick is signed to, he is scheduled to make roughly $19 million when all is said and done. This astronomical number of a cap hit has had insiders speculating for months over whether or not the 49ers would trade, or possibly cut Kaepernick before the start of the new season. And to make matters worse all reports have indicated that he would serve once again as a backup quarterback to Blaine Gabbert in 2016, due to dimishing physical ability.
If somehow you have escaped the onslaught of the Colin Kaepernick controversy this past week, it should be cleared up that Colin Kaepernick was noticed to be actively protesting the playing of the national anthem at each of the 49ers pre-season games thus far, as he has elected to sit during that time.
On August 26, following the pre-season game that day, Kaepernick was quoted explaining his actions, saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Following the attention that Kaepernick’s actions and words have garnered, the 49ers did released a statement saying, “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
While peaceful protesting has done wonders for The United States, helping to slowly but surely chip away racial and sexual prejudices, as well as affording citizens many other rights, one can not help but wonder why Kaepernick, who has never been a huge voice in the activism world – instead opting for magazine shoots and headphone deals – chooses the 2016 pre-season as his platform to reach what he claims is a racially prejudice America.
One would wonder why a once thought to be up-and-coming star – who unseated a former first overall draft choice from their starting job (Alex Smith) – and was a play away from his second Superbowl appearance in that many years, would not simply put his nose to the grindstone and attempt to win his starting job back.
Would it not be more impactful if a starting quarterback making roughly $19 million dollars a year for an NFL team, spoke out against police brutality and the oppression of minorities? It would seem to be much harder to cut a star quarterback saying and doing these things, rather than a physically struggling, former star quarterback, making $19 million a year, who is just magically voicing his opinion the week before final roster cuts.
It would seem to many, that this is a desperation move by Kaepernick – possibly a smart one – as the deadline to have the final NFL 53-man roster looms this coming Saturday, September 3, at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
The 49ers are now placed in a very tight situation, as Kaepernick assumedly planned. Under a once again new regime at head coach, Kaepernick has been reportedly struggling in the new offense of head coach Chip Kelly. Notably Kelly moved on from The Eagles after his short stay as their head coach. During that time, many NFL players spoke out, claiming Kelly was a racist coach. The Eagles have obviously since moved on, after Kelly posted regular season records of 10-6, 10-6, and 6-9. Do the allegations of Chip Kelly being a racist coach have anything to do with Kaepernick speaking out? I think not.
Not long ago, the problem of having a roster spot open for a player garnering as much money as Kaepernick, to simply sit bench, was a problem of waiting to see if Kaepernick would eventually catch on to the a new offensive system.
However, new systems on the football field have not been Kaepernick’s strong-point as he has not posted a ‘succesful’ campaign since the departure of Jim Harbaugh.
Kaepernick’s national anthem protest places the organization as a whole in a squeeze, as they must now balance their salary cap, while also taking into account the performance of a player who brings much controversy and off-field noise to a struggling organization.
Generally speaking, unless you are a superstar athlete, off field antics and political protests are put to bed relatively quickly in the sporting world. As they rightfully should be, it is a business after all, and there is always someone who can replace you.
There is an underlying truth that runs through most sporting organizations in the world. Front office management and coaching staffs do everything in their power to avoid drama on and off the field, however, as I said there are exceptions to this rule as players who consistently perform at a high rate are tolerated. Kaepernick is not currently one of those exceptional players, he is a fading backup quarterback in a league that needs production at his position in order to be successful.
So, while I highly respect Kaepernick for his words and his want to change a truly broken United States. I find it hard to believe he did not simply take advantage of the situation he was in, seeing as come this Saturday he may not have that stage to project his voice anymore, if roster cuts or a trade does in fact happen.