By Thomas Sheremetta
It is no surprise that the ratings for the first week of the NFL were, to say the least, sub-par. CBS reported that “viewership for the NFL was down 14 percent on a year-over-year basis during the first week of the 2017-18 season.” Seeing this number as a major letdown, people started to develop theories of what caused this lower viewership. Many news outlets, including CBS, Variety, and the Atlantic, used distractions such as the hurricanes, the 2016 election, and Peyton Manning’s retirement as reasons for the lower numbers. However, there is another major reason to consider: Colin Kaepernick.
In case you did not know, Kaepernick has taken a firm stance on his feelings about the state of America. Taking a stance against police violence and racial injustice, he decided to kneel during the National Anthem throughout the 2016-2017 NFL season. Likewise, other players decided to join in his anti-anthem crusade. Fast forwarding to present day, Colin Kaepernick does not have a job. Celebrities, ESPN, and news outlets all have a stake on why he is out of the league, accusing the NFL of racism. The New York Times even stated on June 16th that if Kaepernick was in the NBA, then he would still have a job because they allow their players more political freedom. But in my opinion, the only thing to blame for Kaepernick not having a job is himself.
We need to analyze the facts behind this. First, he was signed on to another year with the 49ers but opted out of his contract. However, this as a valid reason was quickly debunked when the GM of the 49ers, John Lynch, confirmed that he would have been cut if he decided to stay on the roster.
So, let’s take a look at his style of play. Kaepernick is not a pocket passer. Instead, he likes to play on the move. This style works with some players, such as Russell Wilson, but not for others, such as Robert Griffin III. The issue is the fact that many teams will pass on a mobile QB for a chance at a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning style, which is the pocket passing style. Furthermore, in the 2017 QB Tiers survey, ESPN explained that “many voters said they see Kaepernick as a Tier 3 player in a system designed for him, and a Tier 4-5 player outside that framework.” It makes sense that many teams passed on him since the voters of this survey were fellow NFL coaches and evaluators.
Oddly enough, he still ranked higher than others who have NFL jobs. On the surface, that does not make much sense. However, Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, stated that Kaepernick was better suited to be a starter, meaning that him as a backup QB defies logic. There are numerous reasons that he is not a necessary backup QB. For example, if his play style does not match up with the current quarterbacks and the offensive scheme of the team, it does not make sense for him to be on that team. Also, the backup QB in certain cases is not the best player available. Coaches see the backup QB position as a spot to put developing young players or veterans that can provide leadership and guidance to other players. You can prove this through numerous examples of teams trading for QBs when their main guy goes down instead of going with the backup. For example, the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford and the Dolphins signed Jay Cutler. To put it bluntly, Kaepernick is already 29 years old, which means there is not much room for improvement at that age. Furthermore, his radical opinions could possibly cause a disturbance in the locker room.
At the end of the day, all players are at the mercy of the owner on whether they get a spot or not. Cast aside this nonsense that NFL owners are racist. Out of all the players employed in the NFL, seventy percent of them are African-American. The NFL is a business and owners want profit. They’re not going to employ someone simply because of skin color. Instead, it is because that player won’t maximize their profits. In the eyes of many owners, it could be true that they see Kaepernick as the opposite of a money-maker. On the other hand, maybe they disagree with his National Anthem protest. For example, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has great pride for the National Anthem. He stated “…the act of recognizing the flag is a salute to our country and all of the people that have sacrificed so that we can have the liberties we have.” Although I disagree with Kaepernick and other players using the public platform of the NFL to voice their opinions, they do have the right to do so. However, owners also have the right to not sign them because of it.
You must give some credit to Kaepernick because unlike other celebrities that are part-time activists, Kaepernick is contributing to society. He promised to donate one million dollars to numerous organizations “to fight oppression of all kinds globally.” You can see all the organizations listed on his website, http://kaepernick7.com/million-dollar-pledge/. However, to everyone giving their two cents on how he deserves a spot on a team’s roster: spots aren’t given, they’re earned.