• Caleb Maddock

Does Colin Kaepernick Actually Want to Play Football?

Only seven years have passed since Colin Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to their first super bowl appearance since 1995. Before all the media circus, Kaepernick signed a six-year contract extension in 2014 with the 49ers worth up to $126 million, which included $13 million fully guaranteed. Two years later, the former superstar turned backup quarterback would be out of a job after his controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem of a preseason NFL game in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. Kaepernick’s actions drew swarms of attention, leading to the 49er’s organization to part ways with him after it became apparent that he had become more of a distraction than he was of service to the team.

He opted out of his contract before the team could release him and became a free agent going into the 2017 season. He went through almost the full NFL season unsigned before filing a grievance against the NFL in November of 2017 for colluding to keep him out of the league. Earlier this year after the grievance was taken to trial, the NFL reached a confidential settlement with Kaepernick, leading to his withdrawing of the grievance. In the Fall of 2018, Kaepernick became the face of Nikes new campaign with the slogan, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

This past summer, Kaepernick made headlines again after he convinced Nike to drop their plans for a new sneaker that was designed with the Betsy Ross flag. All of a sudden, Kaepernick appeared to be influencing decisions for Nike and making the historically outrageous claim that the flag stood for slavery. He continues to be the face of the Black Lives Matter movement by orchestrating strategic protests, further pushing his agenda and polarizing the country.

After Kaepernick’s most recent publicity stunt, it seems as though the former QB doesn’t truly want to play anymore. The NFL gave him an unwarranted opportunity for another chance at the NFL and Kaepernick decided to try and one-up the NFL by doing it his own way. I truly believe Kaepernick had a significant chance at getting signed by an NFL team, but he couldn’t stay out of his own way. Maybe that’s because he doesn’t care about wanting to play in the league anymore. His actions speak for his motives. Very few people get the opportunity to get a special workout in front of even a handful of NFL teams.

Kaepernick had 24 teams interested in wanting to see him throw, but only 8 showed up to watch after he abruptly moved the location to a high school an hour away from the originally scheduled Atlanta Falcons facility. Kaepernick’s team decided to make the change only 30 minutes prior to the scheduled workout after there were disputes with his team and the NFL over a liability waiver they would have to sign. Kaepernick’s ego may have got in the way of him potentially making a triumphant return to the NFL. Hundreds of free agents in the NFL could only dream to get the opportunity and privilege that Kaepernick was awarded.

After his workout, Kaepernick addressed the media that followed him to the new location stating, “We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide.” If Kaepernick had nothing to hide, then why did he feel the need to move the workout? My guess is that he wants to drive his own narrative in order to convince the public that he has been mistreated once again by the NFL. Kaepernick later went on to say,

“We’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell (the NFL Commissioner) - all of them to stop running.”

What exactly does he think they are running from? Regardless of whether or not you believe Kaepernick was originally blackballed by the NFL, the league clearly wasn’t avoiding him anymore. They set up a workout for him at the Atlanta Falcons training facility, providing him access to athletic trainers, equipment, and communications staff to facilitate a platform to showcase his skills. Kaepernick’s team stated that the reason the workout was moved was because they wanted transparency throughout the process. This excuse does not seem to hold water. It appears more apparent that since Kaepernick’s team couldn’t control the narrative, the location was conveniently moved. The whole event seemed to be planned and orchestrated, as, within an hour, the whole workout was moved to a “brand-new” location with Kaepernick’s own receivers and fans there to cheer him on. In the workout, the former quarterback proved that he still had an elite arm; however, he also proved that the whole event wasn’t focused on his skills as a quarterback.

Kaepernick made quite the entrance as he showed up wearing a ‘Kunta Kinte’ shirt, which, surprisingly, wasn’t the most provocative shirt he’s ever worn. Back in a preseason postgame interview during the 2016 NFL season, Kaepernick notably wore a shirt that bore pictures of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro meeting with the Nation of Islam leader, Malcolm X. The caption at the bottom of the shirt read, “Like Minds Think Alike.” Kaepernick was grilled about the shirt and many Cuban-Americans questioned the appropriateness of the t-shirt. His recent stunt has further implicated his views that NFL owners are slave owners and that the NFL players are modern-day slaves. During his NFL tenure, he made over $40 million dollars playing quarterback in a supposedly ‘racist league.’ Kaepernick displays a severe lack of awareness at just how privileged he is to be born, live, and work in the United States. While actual slavery is still today a problem in dozens of countries worldwide, Kaepernick has made millions throwing a leather ball and casting aspersions at a whole system of under-paid police officers that place their lives on the line daily to protect him and millions of other people.

Kaepernick has made himself relevant by provoking political debate and controversy. With the society that we live in today, Kaepernick’s behavior not only further divides the country, but it does a disservice to the people he claims to represent. Based upon his actions, Kaepernick doesn’t appear to want to engage in any debate or provide any solutions to the supposedly widespread problem of police brutality. He has embraced his role to become a martyr to his cause. I can’t determine if this is the end of Kaepernick the quarterback, but I have to believe that his chances of being signed by an NFL team are now very slim after his recent publicity stunt. At this point in the season, not many teams are willing to take a chance on the unpredictable nature of a guy like Kaepernick and the controversy that will undoubtedly follow him. There’s no guarantee that his playing will equate to wins, and with all the off-field attention that comes with the “Kaepernick brand,” teams will find that they are better off looking for a backup quarterback who is proven, football focused, and not looking for any special attention from the media.

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