Kaepernick, not yet 30, is not without failure on the field. His yards per attempted pass was in the bottom third of the league, but so was Eli Manning’s. He was one of just six starting quarterbacks not to achieve at least a 60 percent completion rate. Yet, 37-year-old Josh McCown, who completed just 54.5 percent of his passes last season and posted an anemic passer rating of 72.3, was awarded a new contract earlier this week by the New York Jets, reports the Washington Post.
It all was enough to lead filmmaker Spike Lee last Sunday to post on his Instagram account: “Just Had Brunch With My Brother Colin @Kaepernick7 . How Is It That There Are 32 NFL Teams And Kap Is Still A Free Agent? WTF. Smells MAD Fishy To Me, Stinks To The High Heavens.”
Just Had Brunch With My Brother Colin @Kaepernick7 . How Is It That There Are 32 NFL Teams And Kap Is Still A Free Agent? WTF. Smells MAD Fishy To Me,Stinks To The High Heavens. The New York J-E-T-S Need A Quarterback. Who Is The J-E-T-S Quarterback? Is My Man Joe Willie Namath Coming Back? Crazy Times We Live In. The Question Remains What Owner And GM Is Going To Step Up And Sign Colin So Their Team Has A Better Chance To WIN? What Crime Has Colin Committed? Look At The QB's Of All 32 Teams. This Is Some Straight Up Shenanigans,Subterfuge, Skullduggery And BS. Ya-Dig? Sho-Nuff. By Any Means Necessary. And Dat's Da NoFunLeague Truth,Ruth.
Truth is, Kaepernick’s numbers have nothing to do with what entering Thursday became his second week of unemployment in the league. What has everything to do with his predicament is optics, the same one that ultimately derailed Hodges.
Call it audaciousness.
It wasn’t just that Kaepernick last season dramatically protested the extrajudicial killings of mostly unarmed black men in this country by police who rarely get charged for their actions, let alone prosecuted or convicted. It was that he chose the anthem as his platform. By kneeling during its rendition, he appeared to mar the package of patriotism the NFL put together over the last half century that helped it overtake baseball as America’s sporting pastime.
The NFL juxtaposed itself to the urban sports of baseball and basketball. It became the sport of America’s burgeoning suburbs, where many white families sought solace from rebellion in big cities. As a result, the NFL became the sport of middle- and working-class white America, whose distaste for Kaepernick’s pro-#BlackLivesMatter, apparent anti-police stance, was summed up Monday night in Louisville by the new president who carried most of that NFL demographic.
“Your San Francisco quarterback, I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” President Trump said of the NFL player who made transcendent news last season. “There was an article [Monday], it’s reported, that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Can you believe that?”
What I can believe is that the NFL’s coldness toward Kaepernick is not accidental or rooted in analytics, advanced or otherwise. It may not have come down directly from commissioner Roger Goodell’s office, or up from the owners. But there is a tacit support given that Goodell verbally welcomed Michael Sam as the league’s first openly gay draft prospect after Sam revealed his sexuality, which was followed by the Rams choosing him and the Cowboys giving him another look after he was cut by the Rams. Goodell even pointed out that the league had “ . . . a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We will have further training and make sure that everyone understands our commitment. We truly believe in diversity and this is an opportunity to demonstrate it.”
But the NFL doesn’t have a rule like the NBA’s H-2 under Player/Team Conduct and Dress that demands: “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.” As a result, a stiff arm in free agency was the only punishment for Kaepernick available to the NFL for his remonstration during its game’s manufactured opening.
Unless and until Kaepernick is back in the league under a contract commensurate with his résumé, blackballing is football’s payback.