LOS ANGELES, August 31, 2016 — The Colin Kaepernick situation is about one thing and only one thing: bad football.
Social media lit up on Sunday and Monday over San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem of a preseason game. Kaepernick stated in a televised interview that he did not stand because America represents oppressive treatment of blacks. Despite being raised by white adoptive parents, Kaepernick was born biracial and he has recently been romantically linked to a black nationalist separatist.
Rumors of his conversion from Christianity to Islam have not been confirmed.
The move has people both praising and condemning Kaepernick. While virtually nobody disputed his right to engage in this form of protest, his critics exercised their right of free speech to blast him. He has been called an imbecile, a spoiled brat, and a man who has no right to speak about oppression. He recently signed a six-year contract worth $114 million.
Virtually everyone is missing the point: Colin Kaepernick’s political activism has absolutely nothing to do with politics, race, social justice, or any other trendy buzzwords. Even if one agrees with his message, he is absolutely the wrong messenger.
Again, the Kaepernick situation is really about the fact that Colin Kaepernick is playing bad football.
Kaepernick was on top of the football world only four years ago. He was celebrated by white America and black America. Then came the fall.
In 2012, Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens. Despite trailing 28-6 in the second half, Kaepernick led a furious rally that had the 49ers within 34-29 with less than one minute remaining. Kaepernick had the 49ers within five yards of the winning score and four plays to get the win. Baltimore’s defense was led by future first ballot Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. With everything on the line, Kaepernick failed. His final incompletion was wildly off the mark. On the biggest stage, Kaepernick lost.
In 2013, Kaepernick had the 49ers in the NFC Title Game against the hated Seattle Seahawks. One more win would have the 49ers back in the Super Bowl again. Late in the game, with the 49ers trailing 23-17, Kaepernick again had the 49ers in position for the winning touchdown. Standing in his way was Seattle’s Richard Sherman, considered by many to be the best cornerback in the game. With seconds left, Kaepernick threw a pass to the end zone for receiver Michael Crabtree. Sherman got to the ball before Crabtree, and deflected it into the arms of Seattle defender Malcolm Smith. Again, when it mattered most, Kaepernick failed. The Seahawks would win the Super Bowl, not the 49ers.
Turmoil followed as the 49ers spent the entire 2014 season under the cloud of coach Jim Harbaugh leaving. 2015 saw Harbaugh’s replacement last only one season. While this was an entire organizational collapse from ownership on down, Kaepernick as the quarterback took the blame. The ultimate indignity saw him lose his job to Blaine Gabbert, considered by many football experts to be the worst starting quarterback in the league.
In 2016, Kaepernick again saw Gabbert win the job by default. Rumors had him possibly being cut from the 49ers altogether. Only then did he start lashing out about social inequities.
Kaepernick is not Muhammad Ali, who preached about societal injustices while at the peak of his power and influence. Ali was willing to go to jail for his beliefs. He had moral authority because he yelled “I am The Greatest” and then backed it up.
Kaepernick lacks anything close to Ali’s credibility. He plays in San Francisco, the most socially progressive city in the world. He also plays in the shadow of legends Joe Montana and Steve Young. Anything less than a Super Bowl championship is a disappointment.
While Kaepernick was absolutely not the main reason the 49ers collapsed the last two seasons, he was not the reason they soared high during his time as the signal-caller. Coach Harbaugh installed a nasty defense that took the 49ers to the NFC Title Game in 2011 with Alex Smith at quarterback. Smith won ugly, and now HE wins ugly with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kaepernick still has the physical tools to succeed, but lacks the emotional maturity and mental stability required to deal with the peaks and valleys of football. He faced adversity, and adversity won.
Kaepernick needs to show that he truly respects the game of football. He should heed the advice that the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and New York Giants coach Bill Parcells passed on to current New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. These three men have nine Super Bowl trophies between them. The message they send to every player boils down to three words.
Do your job.
Kaepernick has not done his job on the football field. If he thinks his race will help or hurt him, then he has zero understanding of football history.
The late Reggie White was a devout Christian and NFL Hall of Famer. Tim Tebow is a devout Christian and an NFL bust. Jim Plunkett is a Mexican and two-time Super Bowl champion. Mark Sanchez is a Mexican who is also seeing his career in rapid decline. Steve McNair is a black quarterback and former NFL MVP who should make the Hall of Fame. Colin Kaepernick is a (half) black quarterback who has a career in rapid decline. One day, a future gay Super Bowl champion will be treated like a hero. Michael Sam was gay and not good enough for NFL.
The National Football League is the ultimate meritocracy. Whether it’s Kaepernick’s newfound Black Lives Matter activism, Tebow’s Christianity, Sam being gay, or Sanchez being Mexican, the NFL rewards winners and ruthlessly punishes those who fail to get the job done.
This is why Kaepernick deserves to be ignored. The solution to what ails him is to work harder at his craft and be better at it. There is no excuse for a quarterback in his prime to lose his job to Blaine Gabbert. Screaming #BackupLivesMatter will not make him a starter again. Playing better football will.
Until Kaepernick focuses only on football, he will be an ex-jock. His opinion will matter even less than it does now.
Mr. Kaepernick, do your job. Stop playing bad football.
The rest will fall into place.