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Feinstein writes: "Colin Kaepernick is, without question, the most polarizing figure in sports today. But Kaepernick, who quarterbacked the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, has never been arrested, has never been accused of hitting a woman."

Colin Kaepernick. (photo: Jake Roth/Reuters)
Colin Kaepernick. (photo: Jake Roth/Reuters)

The NFL Cowards Who Aren't Signing Colin Kaepernick

By John Feinstein, The Washington Post

12 August 17


olin Kaepernick is, without question, the most polarizing figure in sports today. But Kaepernick, who quarterbacked the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, has never been arrested, has never been accused of hitting a woman. He’s never been pulled over and charged with DUI or accused of cheating his sport by taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Athletes accused of committing these offenses are frequently welcomed back to their sports with open arms. In 2015, linebacker Greg Hardy, who had been found guilty of domestic abuse by a judge, was signed by the Dallas Cowboys after he avoided jail by asking for a jury trial and reportedly reaching a financial settlement with the victim, who then failed to show up to testify in court. The charges against Hardy, who has continued to maintain his innocence, were subsequently dismissed.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was inducted Saturday into the Pro Football Hall of Fame , not only signed Hardy but also at one point called him “one of the real leaders of this team.”

This is the same Jones who brought Josh Brent back after Brent had been found guilty of vehicular manslaughter after a teammate died in an accident when Brent was driving drunk.

Michael Floyd, a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals last season, served a brief jail sentence this year after being found guilty on a plea bargain of “extreme DUI.” His blood alcohol level when he was arrested was .217 — almost three times the legal limit in Arizona. It was Floyd’s second DUI conviction. He was signed this spring by the Minnesota Vikings.

Fans don’t seem to be bothered by athletes who commit crimes — even crimes of violence. When the Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice after he was caught on camera in an elevator punching his then-fiancee, many fans wore “Free Ray Rice” T-shirts in his honor.

The list goes on.

But if you fail to stand for the national anthem and you say you are doing it to protest police brutality committed against African Americans, you are anathema to many people — notably the 32 NFL owners.

No one thinks that the white men who own NFL teams ever got together and said, “Don’t sign Kaepernick,” who became a free agent in March. Apparently, they didn’t need to.

John Mara, owner of the New York Giants, has been the most honest of the owners, saying that he received numerous letters from fans who vowed to cancel their season tickets if Kaepernick or any player who “disrespected” the flag played for his team. No doubt a handful of fans might cancel season tickets — and, in the case of the Giants, be instantly replaced by those on the waiting list.

At least Mara was being honest. Other owners and general managers have whispered (anonymously, of course) in the ears of more-than-willing-to-listen media members that Kaepernick’s just not good enough to be signed.

If Kaepernick were Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott or any of the other star quarterbacks in the league, he’d have a job. But he’s a borderline starter right now. You can take on a polarizing issue, or you can be an ordinary player. You can’t do both. Kaepernick played reasonably well last year, starting 11 games for an awful team in San Francisco. He is certainly better than many, if not most, of the backup quarterbacks in the league.

Rice also went unsigned after his domestic abuse incident, but the consensus before the incident was that he had lost a step.

Kaepernick has gotten one serious look this offseason, from the Seattle Seahawks. After Seattle Coach Pete Carroll talked glowingly about Kaepernick, the team signed Austin Davis — who last took an NFL snap in 2015. When the Ravens needed a quarterback because of an injury to starter Joe Flacco, they signed David Olson — whose main claim to fame is leading the Wichita Force to a title in the Champions Indoor Football League. The Miami Dolphins signed the recently retired Jay Cutler when their starter, Ryan Tannehill, went down for the season.

That made sense. But their backup plan if Cutler hadn’t signed was reportedly to pursue Tim Tebow, who last played in the NFL in 2011, or Peyton Manning, who is 41 and retired two seasons ago.


Apparently, it doesn’t matter to the “love it or leave it” crowd that many military members have defended Kaepernick, saying things like “The reason we fought overseas was to protect his or anyone else’s right to protest.”

Kaepernick is actually an opportunity for the NFL. All it takes is one team to say publicly: We may disagree with his tactics, but he’s committed no crime and we will judge him on talent alone. The NFL — like most sports franchises — loves to prove its collective patriotism with salutes to the military — paid for, at times in the past, by the military. What’s more patriotic than freedom of speech?

Not signing Kaepernick because there might be backlash is the coward’s way out. The bravest person in this room is the man the cowards are running from. your social media marketing partner


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+20 # ReconFire 2017-08-12 09:20
Don't think for a minute the owners didn't get together and banish Kaepernick. Look at the money spent to discredit the medical community over the brain damage issue.
+8 # chrisconno 2017-08-12 10:15
The NFL is tarnishing any good reputation they may have had. Their priorities are egregiously misguided and un-sportsman like. How can they claim patriotism while supporting criminals over non-crimanal conscientiousne ss?
+3 # RMF 2017-08-12 11:37
As a fan from the earliest days of TV broadcasts (Johnny Unitas, Roman Gabriel etc) I have finally had it with the NFL.

Because of the despicable, cowardly posturing of Goodell and the NFL I will no longer be watching with start-up of the coming season.

The phone number of NFL Public Relations is 1-212-450-2000 -- for anyone (like me) wishing to report displeasure with the NFL's unconscionable stand on this issue. The NFL-PR dept even asks that commenters leave a phone number for a call back from NFL, which I did, but for "some reason" didn't get my call back.
-10 # MendoChuck 2017-08-12 12:15
Kaepernick is a bad quarterback that was exposed when his couch and the better players began leaving the team.
Without a strong team to support him he was unable to read defenses and would panic if his first read was not available.
That my dear author is a fact. Your lack of knowledge of football is now being exposed.

Your argument would be correct if in fact you were speaking of an accomplished quarterback.
+7 # Saberoff 2017-08-12 13:36
Football is a fool's folly for players; a war-game for fans. Colin Kaepernick is better off without it!

I see Kaepernick's protesting of atrocious injustice a sign that his brain, surely unlike many of his team mates - still bashing their heads in - remains capable of stringing together rational thoughts.

Stay strong; get out of football. They don't want you; it's not for you, anyway.
-9 # joejamchicago 2017-08-12 13:42
Mr. Kaepernick can say all he wants to that he disrespected the national anthem for the most worthy reason. The fact is that he disrespected it. At best what he did was a symbolic gesture. Gestures, pontificating, and posturing are little more than attention grabbing and self-serving stunts. The war on drugs continues to incarcerate millions of Americans as police departments seize assets without the bother of arrest much less conviction. Outer cities' schools continue, for at least five decades no, fail black and brown young people. White people continue to isolate themselves in affluent, frequently gated, communities while blacks and browns are confined by economics to places of abandonment.
+6 # SusanT136 2017-08-13 06:15
Quoting joejamchicago:
Mr. Kaepernick can say all he wants to that he disrespected the national anthem for the most worthy reason. The fact is that he disrespected it. At best what he did was a symbolic gesture. Gestures, pontificating, and posturing are little more than attention grabbing and self-serving stunts.

So apparently it's ok to disrespect women by hitting them, and to disrespect human life by getting behind the wheel drunk, but unforgivable to "disrespect" the flag?

If you think Kaepernick is just about symbolic gestures you are sadly ignorant. He is very involved in charity and activist work having pledged to donate $1 million this year to causes. I believe he's about 3/4 of the way there now despite having lost his gig.
+3 # RMF 2017-08-13 11:31 accurately identify a number of social ills in the US.

Then you say the way to combat those ills is to "shut up and stay in line."

But more to the point, perhaps you would like to attempt an explanation of the distorted logic behind your reasoning -- by any objective standard it is perversely inapposite.

(No doubt you think Muhammad Ali should have done the same and not challenge his conviction for refusing to fight in Viet Nam -- a conviction subsequently OVERTURNED by the US Sup Ct.)

Kaepernick was in part supporting Black Lives Matter, and has also made substantial charitable contributions attacking some of the same ills you have identified.

If Kaepernic violated a rule of the NFL, then he should be charged and disciplined within the parameters of that rule, and within the confines of due process -- that is, (1) notice of violation and (2) an opportunity to appear before a NFL administrative tribunal and defend himself (that is certainly what YOU would want if you were accused of a civil wrong.)

But no, instead he is being hung out to dry, convicted without due process via boycott, and thus subjected to what appears to be an anti-trust violation (anti-competiti ve conspiracies are unlawful under applicable anti-trust laws.)

While you are explaining your own distorted logic also please let us know how you would respond if, due to conspiracy and boycott, you were excluded from gainful employment.
+1 # Kamaki 2017-08-12 20:37

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