Soon to be former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is done with pro football. I say soon to be although by the time this goes to press, he may already be finished.
Kaepernick has been frustrated, not just with the 49er management, which has given up on him as ever being their signal caller due to his horrible play, but with the expectations that go along with being an elite NFL quarterback.
Last season, he clearly played his way out of the starting job on one of the worst teams in the NFL. He then lost what was left of any locker room support when last season he opted to have season-ending surgery on his non throwing shoulder, effectively quitting at a time when others are shooting themselves up with anything a doctor will give them to play another week.
The Niner front office failed in the off-season to trade him despite his physical skills. This is tough to do in a league full of ego driven coaches who really believe they can fix any “broken” quarterback. No one took the bait because they all saw what Trent Baalke now realizes he has, a guy who has little desire to work at something that prior to the NFL came so easily to him. Experts like to call it “God given talent,” but Kaepernick also shows us God has a cruel sense of humor for talent and a work ethic are two very different things.
This brings us to the all important third preseason game, the one where coaches on both sides agree to play the first half like it is a real game so they can get one final look at where their projected starters are going into the regular season. Kaepernick learned real fast he is not the starter, but was given a shot at playing against Green Bay’s starting defense after starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert played well.
However, Kaepernick stunk up the joint before he even played a snap when he chose to sit during the playing of the national anthem. When asked about this, he claimed he was making his own protesting statement on the plight of people of color in this country.
Maybe Colin really feels strongly about this topic, I have no idea since he has not been one to speak out on social issues nearly as much as he has about men’s fashion or brands of ear buds he prefers. It seems odd he would select a meaningless preseason game to do this in, maybe it has more to do with how little TV coverage will be given to the horrid 49ers this year.
However, when Kaepernick was the starter on a very good team, one that was on national TV weekly, he was not concerned about the plight of people of color, something that has not changed much in the last couple of years.
So what is Kaepernick’s motivation?
It is entirely possible, but not likely, his agent put him up to it thinking the team would cut Kaepernick and be forced to pay him his salary as a result. Again, not likely since San Francisco will have to pay him a huge chunk of money whether or not he suits up or is cut.
When you add in how unpopular such a protest will sit with fans, coaches, and owners across the league, it only serves to make it more difficult to trade him and less likely for another team to pick him up if he is just released. His agent would have discouraged him from sitting during the national anthem as much as he would have discouraged him from not playing at his best level with the hope of securing a trade.
I believe Kaepernick when he says he did not run his protest past anyone. No sane person would have told him it was a good idea. His was an act consistent of a player who up until the NFL was allowed to play football HIS way and not be coached.
His teams won with him because in high school and at the University of Nevada Reno they failed to play anyone with so much talent it required him to change or improve. In other words, he was light years ahead of the other 21 players on the field and the games he lost were more the result of him not having enough go-to guys to keep an opposing defense from just keying on him while forgetting about the other ten guys with the same uniform.
This also helped serve him well when he first came onto the scene during his second season. Teams seemed powerless to stop this freakish player, which just fed his head with the idea he was fine as he was as a player; the other teams need to up their game, not old Colin.
Now Colin has come to realize the NFL really does stand for Not For Long. He now understands how the best players in the league are not the ones with “God given talent,” but rather the ones who can mix that talent with a work ethic unlike others. Kaepernick fails in the work ethic department, either out of his own sense of not needing to work or because he just lacks the mental capacity required to make all the necessary on going adjustments needed to remain at the top of the heap. Either way, Colin now just wants out of football, not San Francisco, but professional football.
Like a school kid who just wants out of school all together, Colin Kaepernick figures if he does something extreme enough he will force the other side to give him what he wants. However, just like that school kid, Colin Kaepernick fails to grasp the consequences of his actions.
Sure, he will be cut one last final and large NFL check that is liable to be more money than he will ever earn in what is left of his life. Good bye endorsement deals and good bye any chance at much of anything else. He may figure he can make plenty of money modeling for the likes of GQ and other magazines, but he will soon find out they can pay less money to someone who knows how to stand during the national anthem, than they would pay an ex-NFL player who fans will soon forget.
Colin Kaepernick would have been wise to talk to Ryan Leaf, Jamarcus Russell, and maybe even a sober Johnny Manziel and ask them how life is after blowing a good thing in the NFL.
I have no problem if Colin Kaepernick is sick and tired of how life is for non-white Americans, but then his voice carries more weight for the movement to improve life for minorities if he can offer more than a three minute sit down protest and it certainly could use all the financial and social backing a top tier NFL quarterback can bring. I also have no problem if Kaeprnick has decided he doesn’t want to do the work involved to play in the league, but then have the balls to say so and walk away without expecting to be paid not to play.
It takes a great deal of talent to play quarterback in the NFL, however two of the game’s greatest quarterbacks were not long on physical talent, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The two are proof it is not so much about “God given talent” as it is about having the smarts and work ethic required to make it in the most difficult sport in the world. To that end, Colin Kaepernick, it can be argued, has only reenforced the antiquated notion of only white people can play quarterback, something about as stupid as his recent attempt to get released by the San Francisco Forty Niners.
Photo by Claudia Gestro
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.