Before I go any further into this article, I want to clarify one thing; Branded Sports is not a political blog, nor do we wish to be one. While this writer sure does have his opinions on the league’s collective treatment of Kaepernick as compared to, say, their treatment of domestic abusers, this article is not about the politics of the situation, it is merely about the logistics of him playing this season.
During the weeks leading up to the start of this NFL season, football fans were worried. It seemed like the issue of players kneeling during the national anthem, started in 2016 by 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick as a way to protest police brutality against African Americans, and the controversy that comes with these protests, were going to be a major story all season. The NFL is enjoyed by millions of fans with different views and political affiliations. The one thing we all agree on is that on Sundays, the games are meant to be a break from politics; not another vehicle for politics to be forced upon us.
Surprisingly (and pleasantly so), the issue faded away, and aside from a quip here and there, has barely been spoken of during the season. But Kaepernick has remained unemployed, which many feel is a result of the league blackballing him because of his protests. He became a trendy topic again this week when Washington Redskins’ quarterback Colt McCoy was injured, leaving the team with recently-signed butt fumbler Mark Sanchez as their only healthy option.
Apparently, seeing Sanchez playing in a real NFL game was the final straw in breaking many sports personalities silence on Kaepernick. Suggestions that the Redskins should offer him a job for the remainder of the season became rampant on social media. Think about that for a second, this season we have watched Nathan Peterman, Matt Barkley, Jeff Driskel, Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler play quarterback, but it was Mark Fucking Sanchez who was the final straw! Here is an excellent piece by Barstool Nate of Barstool Sports:
Sports media mogul Bill Simmons felt the same way
I can’t believe the Redskins aren’t signing Kaepernick / it’s such a forward-thinking, socially conscious, fan-friendly franchise helmed by such a likable owner, it just seemed like a natural.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) December 4, 2018
Of course, the Redskins claim that while they did internally consider Kaepernick as an option, they determined that he would not be a good fit for football reasons. That excuse was shredded by many NFL writers, perhaps none better than Steven Ruiz of USA today in this article. It is clear that this team would sign Joe Theismann to play quarterback before ever legitimately considering Kaepernick, but his supporters got so consumed with the fact that an opportunity presented itself, they didn’t consider how such a move could effectively destroy Kaepernick’s career and long term pursuits of rejoining the NFL.
There are a lot of fans who believe, or at least claim to believe, that Kaepernick has been without a job for two years strictly because of his performance. From a statistical standpoint, there was a clear dip in his production over his last two seasons with San Francisco. I don’t think you could make an argument that he was as bad as some other quarterbacks who have gotten NFL opportunities in the last two seasons, but in 2015-16 seasons, he was not looking like the same guy who led the 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2012 and made the Pro Bowl in 2013. Did he really significantly regress skill-wise in such a short amount of time? Or, can part of his struggles be attributed to the fact that when head coach John Harbaugh left the Niners, the team became a dumpster fire with incompetent coaches and very little talent on offense? The answer to that is up to the eye of the beholder. Nonetheless, to this day, Kaepernick’s last snap of 2016 remains the last snap he took in the NFL
From what sources close to him have said on the record, Kaepernick has been working out consistently and is keeping himself in great shape while actively seeking a job in the NFL. While I have no reason to doubt that, it does not change the fact that he has not played in an NFL game since the 2016 season. There is no workout or training program that can prepare a quarterback for the speed of the NFL, and two years is far too long for a guy to step back in and perform to even a fraction of his potential. The thought that Kaepernick would be ready to play anytime soon is ridiculous.
For this reason, I am quite certain that if Kaepernick were to have signed with Washington and been thrown into action for the final four games of the season, he would play terribly. This would not mean he is a bad player. It is next to impossible to come in off the street mid-season and have success at the quarterback position. Try to think of one example of it occurring. Give up yet?
But even knowing that, a poor showing in these four games would be enough for his many detractors to say “I told you so, he’s just not good.” That would likely close the book on his career. It would kill any mystique his name still carries; any wonder in any NFL General Manager’s mind that there might be something left in his tank, would be gone. The narrative would become “he got his chance with Washington and he didn’t succeed.”
We haven’t even touched on the financial aspect in play here. If Washington, or any team, approached Kaepernick now with intentions of playing him this season, he would be giving up his collusion suit against the NFL for four games of the league minimum salary for veterans. I do believe that Colin Kaepernick wants to play in the NFL; I don’t think he, as some suggest, is happy being the face of a movement and cashing checks from sponsors without having to play football. I think that if given a genuine offer with an NFL team, he would retract his lawsuit. But I also think he is going to want a legitimate opportunity to come to training camp, learn the playbook, develop chemistry with some of his teammates, even in a backup role, and play some preseason snaps to get caught up to the speed of NFL action. In that case, if he got a chance to play and performed poorly, at least he would know that he got a fair shot.
The Washington Redskins have shown that they are not a team that cares much about morality. They proved this when they claimed Reuben Foster off waivers just a week ago. I will also say that it is blatantly clear that the NFL and its teams are more accepting of actual criminals on rosters than they are with the thought of Kaepernick being on one. I don’t believe that the Redskins had any desire whatsoever to legitimately consider Kaepernick as an option. And while the response of media personalities like Simmons, Barstool Nate, and dozens of others, suggest that the Colt McCoy injury presented a great opportunity for Kaepernick to get a chance. I believe that by not even considering him, the Redskins did him a huge favor.
Featured Image- Time