Colin Kapernick, the unemployed NFL quarterback, is by all accounts a nice guy and a good teammate. He has some dopey political opinions, but he is not the only NFL player who does. Unlike those other NFL players he chose to express those political opinions in a way that angered many NFL fans, by kneeling during the national anthem. Correctly or not, they took it as a sign of disrespect to the nation, and stopped watching the games.
(Personally I find the anthem ceremonies before games to be in horrible taste, and am mildly offended by the military pomp surrounding them, and those were reasons to stop watching. But I also felt like Kapernick’s injecting politics into a stupid game that exists so I don’t have to think about things like politics was another reason for me to stop watching. Drip… drip… the reasons kept piling up.)
Kapernick is available, no team will sign him. The Washington Post considers Kapernick a social justice martyr of the cowardly white male owners who refuse to hire someone who will piss off their customers and make them lose TV and ticket revenue. The Washington Post however lets the truth slip out about Kapernick:
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.
Kapernick had one good season, his first. It is not unusual for a young athletic QB to take the league by storm for a few games. Pundits rave about how these unorthodox athletes “just win” and they represent “the future of the game”. But NFL defenses are not stupid: they figure out the kid’s weaknesses and relentlessly exploit them. The young star can either mature as a player or be consistently beaten. The Seahawks’ Russell Wilson got off to a fast start out of nowhere, just like Kapernick, but Wilson was able to build on his early success and improve as a QB. Kapernick, however, is the exact same QB he was three years ago, and teams now know he can’t throw the ball with any finesse or throw accurately to certain parts of the field.
Kapernick most resembles Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow was a great college player, an incredible natural athlete, and a nice guy. His first year he won a bunch of games and lead his team to the playoffs. Now Tebow is out of football. His fans think it has something to do with his polarizing, outspoken beliefs, but the truth is he just isn’t a good NFL quarterback. The arguments of Kapernick’s supporters sound just like that of Tebow’s. They throw out number and statistics that sound plausible but don’t give the whole picture. They exaggerate his talents because they are attracted to something that has nothing to do with the sport.
If Kapernick were less outspoken would he be on a team playing as a backup? Probably. Should the franchise owners lose fans by signing him? Of course not.
Update: I forgot to mention that when evaluating potential backup quarterbacks teams ask if the player can fit the offensive system they have been building their team around. Teams do not want to have to rewrite the playbook if the starting quarterback gets hurt, so the backup has to be in the same mold as the starter. Kapernick (like Tebow before him) has proven he is more suited to a college-style “pistol” approach which no NFL teams use. No coach is going to want to shift offensive strategies to match Kapernick’s strengths.