Colin Kaepernick’s trouble signing with an NFL team isn’t about ability

NFL News


Pro Football Talk reported evidence in the Colin Kaepernick collusion case that suggests multiple teams viewed the ex-49ers quarterback as a starter, all but ending the silly narrative he wasn’t good enough to be in the NFL.

The only people who believed football was the only thing keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the NFL were those who had a problem with Kaepernick’s methods for seeking social justice. It was always a concern troll.

They’d insist it couldn’t possibly be the kneeling, or the controversy that generated particularly among the conservative right in the United States. It couldn’t have been related to Kaepernick’s socks making fun of police officers, or a shirt showing support for Fidel Castro. This is the same player who the President called a “son of a bitch.”

No, it had to be about football. We can now set aside the absurdity of that argument, one that held water about as well as a pasta strainer. According to a report from Pro Football Talk, the Kaepernick collusion case uncovered proof that NFL teams viewed the ex-49ers star as a legitimate starter in the league.

It doesn’t prove collusion (where have I heard that refrain before?) but it does put to bed any notion Kaepernick “isn’t good enough” to play in the NFL. Take a look around the league at some of the football atrocities who currently hold roster spots and that should become obvious. Kaepernick may not be a star quarterback anymore, but he’s good enough to be on a team, and probably good enough to start for a handful of franchises.

We now have proof some front offices agree.

Again, it’s worth pointing out, Kaepernick still has to prove teams coordinated with each other or with the league to keep him, a much higher bar than whether or not he’s capable of playing.

What this shows is those who would seek to undermine Kaepernick for political reasons can no longer use this specious cudgel against him. He’s good enough to be an NFL player and you know who agrees? The NFL.

The question has never been “Is Kaepernick good enough to be an NFL quarterback?” We have an unequivocal answer to that, both from most reasonable observers and now from the league itself. More saliently, the concern for NFL teams is “Is Kaepernick good enough for us to overlook a potential PR nightmare?”

For whatever you or any teams believe about the legitimacy of the anger directed at Kaepernick, it does exist. Conservative radio shows and columnists stoked legitimate anger. My guess is you’ve seen it for yourself in your Facebook or Twitter feeds. Teams are fearful of a fan rejection. That may not be reason enough for you to justify your favorite team shying away from a player who might help your team, but the reality is that fear is based on real animus in the country and among NFL fans.

We can’t pretend that calculation isn’t taking place simply because we may not like the answer, knowing a team would be afraid to take the morally superior position of taking a risk for a player who wants social justice. It can’t be about that. Not everything is about race.

Except this is. And it always has been, not that Kaepernick doesn’t have a job because he’s black, but that he doesn’t have a job because some people don’t like how he’s gone about fighting for black equality.

Now that we’ve removed the artifice of “the football argument,” we can have an actual discussion about what is going on.

The Philadelphia Eagles proved the search for social justice by its players cannot be used as an excuse and isn’t a “distraction.” Malcolm Jenkins is one of the most social and politically active players in pro sports. That team featured multiple players who showed vocal support for Kaepernick and civil rights causes.

How’d their season turn out?

It helps they’re already employed, already entrenched in a team culture and community fabric. Kaepernick would have to forge new bonds, be accepted by a new community. This is no small undertaking. And it would be a risk for a team to sign him under those circumstances. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthy one.

Luckily, now we can have an honest discussion about why Kaepernick isn’t playing in the league, even if he’s unlucky to prove he’s the victim of a conspiracy to keep him out of the NFL.

Once the other arguments for why he’s not playing have fallen away, we’re left only with the very issues Kaepernick sought to bring to light in the first place.



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