Colin Kaepernick: Unsigned and Unfazed

(NBC.COM)

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stood against racial inequality in 2016. As a free agent in 2017, he has yet to find any suitors.

Colin Kaepernick was America’s most polarizing individual in 2016. During a preseason game as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem in protest of the racial injustices rained upon minorities in the United States. The on-camera shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — both unarmed African-American men killed within hours of each other — outraged the nation and were the spark for Kaepernick’s stunning act of defiance. Weeks after Kaepernick’s initial stance, unarmed Black motorist Terrence Crutcher was shot and killed by a white female police officer during a traffic stop, validating the roots of Kaepernick’s protest. African-American athletes in particular were enraged about the killings and didn’t hold back in voicing their opinions. In the end, it was Kaepernick (and later several other NFL players) who took the biggest step by refusing to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner — a song when sung in its entirety speaks of the fate awaiting a fleeing slave.

Since NFL Free Agency began on March 10th, seventeen quarterbacks have either signed with new teams or resigned with their previous club. None among them can measure up to the resume of Kaepernick — which includes a Super Bowl appearance — and only Mark Sanchez can boast of victories in the postseason. Whether he’s viewed as a backup or a starter, Colin Kaepernick is the most effective quarterback in this free agent class.

Do you believe the signings of re-treads like Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Mark Sanchez and Brian Hoyer over Kaepernick were because of sheer ability statistics or leadership qualities?

Didn’t think so.

Colin Kaepernick took his stance against racial injustice by not standing for the National Anthem during the 2016  NFL season, owners and to some extent Commissioner Roger Goodell remained silent on the issue. That silence has reached a deafening tone nearly a month into the NFL’s free agency spending period as teams like the Chicago Bears and New York Jets decided to partner up with Mike Glennon and Josh McCown.

Kaepernick’s stance was met with hatred and disgust by millions and now it looks as if NFL team owners are getting their jabs in.

Glennon was a starter of 18 career games in four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to the arrival of Jameis Winston. In 18 games as a starter from 2013-14, Glennon passed for 4,025 yards with 29 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a passer rating of 83. In 2016, Glennon (27) took a total of 15 snaps, completing 10 of 11 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. In the opening hours of free agency Glennon signed a three-year $45 million contract with the Chicago Bears with $18.5 million guaranteed with the starting job being his to lose. His competition is Matt Barkley — who signed a two-year deal worth $4 million.

Journeyman quarterback Josh McCown’s career spans ten teams in 14 seasons. The 37-year old veteran signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets for $6 million.

Former starters turned backups Nick Foles and Brian Hoyer signed two-year deals with Philadelphia and San Francisco, respectively. Even struggling signal callers E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith are being given second looks they probably would not have received.

In eleven starts last season, Colin Kaepernick passed for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions for a completion percentage of 59.2 and a rating of 90.7. In three starts, Josh McCown passed for 1,100 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. We’ve seen the turnover machine Mark Sanchez has become and no starter has let their team down more than Jay Cutler. Even the recently retired Tony Romo — who attempted only four passes last season — was seen as more of a commodity than Kaepernick. Prior to retirement, it was reported Romo’s imminent signing or trade would dictate the market for Kaepernick. Doesn’t make much sense when you’re speaking of a player who played such an insignificant role in the success of the Dallas Cowboys last season.

One more reason for your BS meter to go through the roof.

With Romo in retirement, what options do the Houston Texans have after trading quarterback Brock Osweiler and a second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns with hopes of dumping Osweiler’s ridiculous salary and obtaining Romo? What about the Cowboys who lost a veteran in Romo despite placing him as a backup to rookie Dak Prescott?

Despite last season’s numbers, Kaepernick to date has not been contacted to at least compete for a backup job. There have been whispers Kaepernick will only negotiate with teams if he is named the starter. Highly unlikely given the fact he hasn’t spoken on anything football related in months.

Kaepernick chose to opt out of the final year of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan explained how holding on to Kaepernick would have meant tailoring the offense to his skills instead of adopting an approach most quarterbacks could grasp. Ironically, tailoring the offense around Kaepernick’s skills seemed to work out for former head coach Jim Harbaugh who coached Kaepernick and the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

While many of us have wondered aloud why Kaepernick remains unsigned, the man himself has remained silent on what can easily be perceived as a blackballing tactic by NFL team owners. It doesn’t take much intelligence or thought to see what’s going on.

Kaepernick took his stand in 2016 and NFL team owners are responding with one of their own.

Since season’s end, Kaepernick has remained intensely committed to spreading his message of self-awareness and seems unfazed by the talk or lack thereof about signing with a team. Everyone from former President Barack Obama to President-elect Donald Trump have given their thoughts on Kaepernick. Former player Ray Lewis and current Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman have taken liberty to speak out.

In spite of what’s been said, Kaepernick has kept his shoulder to the wheel. When people asked him to put his money where his mouth was, he donated $1 million to charities that promote community development. Since then, he’s also made contributions to the Meals on Wheels program and the Dakota Pipeline Protesters — two programs which could be adversely affected by the Trump Administration. He has sponsored a camp geared toward raising awareness and stressing education called Know Your Rights, the camps have taken place in Oakland, Ca. and New York City.

Athletes on all levels have taken some of form of stance against racial injustice in the wake of Kaepernick’s protest. The Beaumont Bulls are a Texas-based youth football team of primarily Black players who had their entire season cancelled when they chose to kneel during the National Anthem.

It’s possible to believe Colin Kaepernick saw the backlash for his actions down the road and decided to go full steam ahead thus shunning the consequences. In questioning the justice system and other entities, Kaepernick has taken his career into his hands and doesn’t seem to mind if an NFL team ever calls for his services again.

If this happens, he’s proven his point just as John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Duane Thomas, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Craig Hodges and several others have that consciousness and self-awareness has no place in sports.

One rarely mentioned contribution from Kaepernick was the donation of his expensive sneaker collection to the homeless and less fortunate in the Bay Area.

Proving you don’t need millions of dollars or extraordinary athletic ability to walk in his shoes.

3 Responses to “Colin Kaepernick: Unsigned and Unfazed”

  1. DN says:

    Such a good article… with a perfect last line

  2. TheLastPoet says:

    Dope. And not the least bit surprising. #LandoftheFree

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