Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been suspended. Nor is he coming off a scandal with any criminal elements. He even played relatively well in 2016 and isn’t carrying any significant injuries.
So why, John Lynch, should Kaepernick be required to conduct a public interview to confirm that he wants to continue his NFL career, essentially begging for a second chance?
“I would tell you with my conversations with Colin, he is fully committed to wanting to be in this league,” Lynch said. “I gave that opinion to Colin myself: ‘I think you are having a little bit of an image crisis in terms of, not so much what you did last year, but people are wondering: Is this most important to you?’ At a position where the guys who succeed at the position are the guys who live it, breathe it, the CEOs at that position. And I think there is a perception that football is not at the top of the list.”
Putting aside the egregious notion that someone can’t be both a starting NFL quarterback and a committed philanthropist, which has countless examples to the contrary, the San Francisco 49ers‘ general manager – while seemingly with good intentions, as he praised Kaepernick’s work ethic – isn’t doing his former quarterback any favors by making a statement like this.
Firstly, Kaepernick is damned if he does, damned if doesn’t. In all likelihood, a fair portion of the people calling for Kaepernick to reaffirm his passion for football or who were against his protests would also criticize him for drawing “unnecessary” attention to himself.
The we-want-our-athletes-to-shut-up-and-not-express-any-opinions-like-actual-human-beings crowd would likely have a field day.
You can’t argue teams are staying away from Kaepernick because he’s too much of a distraction, especially for a backup quarterback, and also demand he holds a press conference.
Secondly, as previously mentioned, Kaepernick shouldn’t need an image-fixing PR move. He isn’t Ray Rice. While some view his protests in a negative light, he didn’t do anything illegal, and most would agree he took a morally correct stance, even if some believe he shouldn’t have done so during an event like the anthem.
And Kaepernick isn’t exactly all talk and no walk. As of early June, he has donated $700,000 to charitable causes as part of a $1-million pledge to help oppressed communities. If that hasn’t changed some people’s opinions of him, a press conference almost certainly won’t.
Lastly, while Kaepernick was the first and most prominent player to protest during the national anthem last season, he wasn’t the only one. Far from it.
Antonio Cromartie knelt during the season and is currently a free agent. Does he want to play football?
Yes, those two players are both currently on teams, but where are the questions about how important football is to them? Both are noted social activists, and Bennett may have more interests and hobbies outside of football than any other NFL player.
Can Bennett be fully committed to football while also doing charity work, creating music and animated short films, and running his own production company? Of course he can. Questioning his passion doesn’t even enter anyone’s mind.
So why does it for Kaepernick?
He’s visited with the Seattle Seahawks, and even if that wasn’t enough to convince teams he wants to play, they could, you know, just pick up the phone and ask him! That’s a general manager’s job. Teams shouldn’t need a press conference to find this out.
And that’s the main reason why Kaepernick shouldn’t follow Lynch’s advice.
The NFL and its owners don’t want more political protests during games, as they believe it alienates some of its audience. Kaepernick saying in a press conference he’s still committed to a career in football, despite his protests and social work, would essentially be viewed as an apology for his actions – a final admission that the NFL machine has ground him down.
Kaepernick knows this, and it’s why he’ll likely avoid doing it. He knew when he started his protest that he was risking his NFL career, and the vitriolic backlash confirmed it.
If teams want to assess the 29-year-old’s state of mind, they should do what they normally do and bring him in for a visit or arrange a meeting.
In what may be Kaepernick’s last stand against the NFL, he shouldn’t waver, even it unfairly means he’s played his last down.
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