There Is More to Colin Kaepernick Remaining Unsigned Than His Kneeling During the National Anthem

The smell of football is in the air. Preseason games have fans holding their breath, hoping star players escape serious injury. Fantasy drafts are taking place. Fans are buying new apparel or digging through the closet to pull out the old stuff. (If football fans are anything, they're consistent in that they'll wear 20-year-old jerseys bearing the names of long ago retired players.)As a transplanted Giants fan to the Dallas area, I am looking forward to (hopefully) seeing the long faces of co-workers and neighbors after a Cowboys defeat at the hands of Big Blue. But that battle is for another day. For now, a lot of news about football surrounds the continuing saga of Colin Kaepernick.Kaepernick remains unsigned this season after opting out of his San Francisco 49er's contract after the 2016-17 season. He'd caused controversy by kneeling during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in what he says was a protest of the treatment of minorities in the United States, particularly at the hands of the police.Some people, convinced that his unemployment is a conspiracy by owners to keep him out of the game and punish him for his actions, are calling for a boycott of the NFL. The list includes chapters of the NAACP, movie director Spike Lee, as well as Black Lives Matter activist and New York Daily News columnist Shaun King.The theory does not hold up under scrutiny for two reasons — talent and politics.First, Kaepernick just isn't all that good. If Kap put up numbers in 2016 similar to that of Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, he'd have signed a fat contract with a team two days after he opted out of his deal with the 49ers. Some have issued lame arguments such as, "He had the best TD-to-INT ratio of any quarterback in the last half of the season!" OK, so what? The Niners were a pitiful 2-14, so that statistic loses punch, knowing nothing was on the line. His skills have declined, and he is prone to injury. Also, reports state Kap is seeking a deal worth $9 million or $10 million per season, and that doesn't help his case.NFL owners can be counted on to overlook former sins in order to sign players who will:A. Benefit their team and put up good numbersB. Put butts in the seatsA perfect example is former NFL quarterback Michael Vick. He spent 21 months in federal prison, on dog-fighting-related charges and missed two full seasons. However, the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a contract knowing he still had the skill set to put up good numbers — and he did, challenging Tom Brady for MVP honors in 2010.Second, as for the politics, it probably does explain part of why he remains unsigned — but in that respect, he is a victim of his own grandstanding. Kaepernick had a big platform. I will not assume the worst about his motives and instead believe he did have an issue with the treatment of minorities and police brutality in the United States.However, he could have done something far more constructive with his time.Kaepernick could have started an organization or foundation to assist victims of discrimination or police brutality. He could have recorded PSAs with other athletes, influencers, entertainers and politicians. He could have appeared on news programs to express his concerns. He had a multitude of options available to him.Instead, he chose to showboat.Kap helped nobody because he decided to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. People said, "Oh, he started a conversation." Yes, about him and his actions, not the issues he raised. And he didn't help himself showing up to a post-game press conference wearing a T-shirt featuring images of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. When asked about it, Kaepernick repeated a familiar myth about high Cuban literacy rates, arguing that they are high because Cuba "invests" in education and not prisons. The questioner, Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero (and Cuban exile) responded in a column: "Could it be Cuba doesn't have to invest a lot in its prison system because, you know, dungeons and firing squads (El Paredon) are not too expensive to maintain?"Kaepernick had the freedom to do what he did. But actions often come with consequences. His diminishing skills, as well as his ill-thought-out stunt, have created an environment where teams are not willing to spend $10 million a year for his services.That's not a conspiracy. That's just NFL owners looking out for their business.What's your view?Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.  Continue reading...

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