Michael Ayetiwa, asst. lifestyle editor, and Isaiah Vargas, staff writer
It’s been more than a month since the free agency period started, and former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has yet to be signed by a National Football League team.
Last season, Kaepernick was at the center of a national controversy when he kneeled during the national anthem as a sign of protest to racial and social injustices in the country. Many fans of the sport believed he disrespected the nation, the United States Flag and veterans alike, resulting in Kaepernick being booed by fans. At the same time, he posted one of his worst stat lines of his career while leading his team to an abysmal record of 2-14.
So let’s beg the questions for argument’s sake: Why is Colin Kaepernick still unsigned? Is it because of his play or because of his politics?
I firmly believe it is a combination of both. Let’s be clear: Kaepernick was not the worst football player in the league last year, but he certainly was not among the best. If you add his refusal to stand for the national anthem on top of his mediocre play, he becomes a very unattractive option for any NFL team who would like to steer away from controversy and instead focus on winning games, or ultimately Super Bowls.
It should be noted that there are other solid free agents with less controversial and political baggage.
FOX Sports writer Dieter Kurtenbach wrote, “Teams don’t lack quarterback options in free agency, and right now there are certainly better quarterbacks to be signed than Kaepernick. It’s as simple as that.”
Kaepernick is not the only starter remaining in free agency. Other quarterbacks like Jay Cutler, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Fitzpatrick started for their clubs last season and remain unsigned as well.
I agree that his protest plays a factor into his current unemployment, but that’s only one side of the coin here. Others believe it is the sole obstacle for NFL teams and owners. They argue that Kaepernick is better than many backup quarterbacks; therefore, the league must be punishing him based on his politics alone. But this is not an intellectually honest take on the Kaepernick dilemma.
Mike Dinovo from USA TODAY put it, “There’s only 32 of these jobs if you’re a starter. If you’re a backup, there’s 64 more of them. Now are there 90 quarterbacks in the world better than Kaepernick? Probably not.”
Yes, maybe Kaepernick deserves more credit, but the fact is that while players are allowed to be entitled to their opinions — they are not on the field to make political statements. They reached that level of professional sport due to their skill in the craft, not because of their ideals or political outspokenness. I believe professional athletes must remember that their job comes first and their passions second.
I would compare this not only to being a Christian in the workplace, but also specifically to Tim Tebow and his football career. I like Tebow. I applaud him for being outspoken for his faith and his ideals, but his faith doesn’t win Super Bowls.
When owners of NFL teams are looking to win a championship ring and wish to recruit those that will make that vision a reality, they aren’t looking at the QB who shows the most civil rights activism or the tight end with the biggest cross around his neck. They are looking at the stats.
Kurtenbach continued, “But right now Kaepernick is Tim Tebow. Both men should be lauded for their activism, even if you don’t agree with the impetus for that activism, and both are bad quarterbacks who won playoff games in this decade.”
There is some truth to the Kaepernick and Tebow comparison, but the difference between the two is that Tebow never backed down from his beliefs.
“Kaepernick no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change he believes has been created,” an ESPN author wrote.
I understand Kaepernick has been donating $100,000 every month to charity, and his message has clearly made it’s way across the nation, but the timing of this decision seems like he’s selling out.