Is Kaepernick’s Fate Self-Inflicted?

NFL manager says teams will use Kaepernick as cautionary tale to prevent players "from doing what he did."

Colin Kaepernick is currently without an NFL team to call home, but is his fate self-inflicted? / REUTERS

Three months into NFL free-agency, the silent elephant in room has now begun to stampede – Colin Kaepernick, considered by some to be one of the league’s most eligible quarterbacks, still has not been signed.

It’s not unheard of for prominent players to find themselves in NFL limbo, but this predicament has been generating hefty buzz considering it was only four years ago that the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback helped lead his team to Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens.

Back then he ran for a quarterback playoff-record of 181 yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay as the 49ers beat the Packers in a divisional playoff game. Today, he waits for a phone call confirming a spot on a team.

Though given his political stance over the past year, including kneeling during the national anthem, some might not be surprised.

Back in March, an anonymous AFC general manager spoke with the Bleacher Report about the politically enthused free agent’s chances of getting picked up by a team, despite his ability to “still play at a high level.”

“The problem is three things are happening with him,” he said. “First, some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play. They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.”

“Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings,” he continued.

“Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”

With the pre-season fast approaching, Scott Ostler at the San Francisco Chronicle recently wrote about Kaepernick’s troubles by summarizing it up as him being “simply lousy at groveling.”

The sports columnist even compared the athlete to Marvin Gaye by writing, “Kaepernick is like Marvin Gaye, a stubborn kind of fella.”

Aside from taking playful jabs, Ostler however did take a career advice approach by wondering why Kaepernick won’t take the recommended steps that have been given to him to assure a league position.

For instance, Ostler cited remarks by John Lynch, the 49ers’ new general manager, who told sports radio station KNBR that he suggested to Kaepernick, as the team was cutting ties, that he make an effort to convey to the NFL that he still has a great desire to play football.

“He makes a compelling case as to how bad he wants to be in the league when you talk to him … and I think that would help him,” Lynch said he told Kaepernick, adding he also suggested he sit down for a public interview.

Ostler raised a bigger question pondering about what politics really have to do with football in the first place and at what point it should take a toll on one’s career.

“Tom Brady rocked a Trump ball cap, and nobody is calling for his job,” he joked.

One thing is for sure, with four weeks away from the start of NFL pre-season, whether Kaepernick finds himself on a 53-man roster or not, he won’t be begging for it.

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  • One the field and off the field behavior for football players has always been a character evaluation in the NFL, but typically they’ve used this metric to measure poor social behavior and decision making that reflects badly on the team and is disruptive to the locker room. Owners are free to determine if a player’s on & off the field behavior is disruptive to the locker room and detrimental to team’s cohesion and effectiveness, but what the league is not allowed to do is muzzle a person’s free speech rights, or punish a player for standing up against injustice. Although none of us knows what the reasons are that teams aren’t considering Mr. Kaepernick, but it certainly appears that they’re attempting to punish him for his silent protest…and it appears to have silenced other players. Child and animal abusers have received better treatment than this lone silent protester. Where’s the NFL Players Associations when you need them? Shame on the NFL & Shame on those players in the NFL who appear to be cutting him lose and allowing him to be the scapegoat for the sins of our nation. Mr. Kaepernick shouldn’t have to apologize, grovel, or otherwise compromise his beliefs or character simply to keep a job that he’s clearly qualified to have. The silence is deafening.

  • The title of this article seems an attempt to normalize the oppression a POC faces when standing up to injustice. It was HIS own doing, It was self inflicted?!?!? That leads the impression that we live in a world if a POC is to stay employed, they CANNOT believe in standing up for their identified ethnic group’s civil rights? Don’t we hear time and time again that “slavery is over, get over it”.. well, didn’t the slave master beat the one who tried to escape in front of the others? How is this different? Wait.. oh.. no chains and instead of a whip, just take your livelihood away.. No wonder they want us to “get over it”. That way we will think these old tactics are new and still not be prepared.

    Secondly- The sports columnist even compared the athlete to Marvin Gaye by writing, “Kaepernick Is like Marvin Gaye, a stubborn kind of fella.” – stubborn?!?!?!? Resistant to what?!?!? Legal and approved subjugation!?!?!? This is a problem? Again, everyone can stand up for their civil rights, EXCEPT anything related to Black..We are supposed to go along and smile and yes massa as we shuffle along in the invisible chains, not looking anyone in the the eye and you better not complain or be “taught a lesson”.

    Awfully similar to the “disease” Drapetomania slave owners gave the slaves when they wanted to run away for the horrible atrocities they faced with every waking moment. The self preservation of the Negro is seen as threat.. Then and now!!! The ability to have the “mind and soul” to protect yourself does not fit in with the white supremacy narrative. In this world, white supremacy is NORMAL, and wanting to be free of was considered a diseased mentality of the Negro and has morphed into being labeled as “stubborn” and punished accordingly… My how things are still the same…

    • I’m so with you . Truth and Honest has No place in this climate . I guess we would be Great Citizens If we All did as our Leaders do ” Lie ” . And All Quarterbacks should rock ” Make America Great Again ” since that is Not a Political statement

  • Yes. As a manager here once warned me, when in front of a group, it may help to know your audience. Sienfeld’s pony episode comes to mind.

  • It is true that if one speaks out, there may be consequences for that speech. I have the right to call my boss a jerk but that boss also has the right to punish me in some manner. But the real crux to this situation is in the “joke” that Ostler made about Tom Brady. Imho this has nothing to do with Kaepernick’s skills and everything to do with the fact that 1. he’s a Black man; 2. he’s a Black man with a voice; 3. he’s an unrepentant Black man with a voice. (White) People who are saying he needs to go on air, say how much he wants to play, “grovel” as it is, want a Black man to shuck and jive and then maybe, maybe someone might offer him a job. As a White woman, I am absolutely convinced if he was White and did the same thing for some Christian organization, no one would bat an eye. He would be seen as a hero. See Tim Tebow, who is a vastly less talented QB, for details. But because Kaepernick is fighting for Black lives, he’s seen as a rebel or worse and “needs to be put back in his place,” thus no contracts or offers.

    I hope Kaepernick has saved some of those millions he’s been giving away for himself because I’ll be greatly surprised if he’s offered any kind of a contract, let alone a good one. I for one believe he’s a man of great courage and strength. I would be proud if one of my son’s had the same kind of guts and values to stand up for what they believe in. Kaepernick refuses to sell his soul to anyone. That makes him a hero in my book.

    • Definitely. I think it’s ridiculous how Kaepernick’s being treated. You’d think he beat up someone’s mother the way he’s being subtly kicked to the curb. There are players who have done far worse things than not kneel for the flag. It trips me out how people are so quick to holler about their rights, yet when someone like Kaepernick exercises that right as he sees fit—since people didn’t like how he exercised his right to free speech and what it was about, they have a problem with it. I also think the media blew what he did way out of proportion—-he explained what he did and exactly why he did it, but that still wasn’t enough for the people who claimed he “disrespected the flag” and also the online commenter who said he as a black man should be grateful to be in the U.S. and to even have a football career at all (which was sickening to read,btw.) His football career might be over, but at least he can say to himself that he stood for something, and that he didn’t back down on his convictions on this matter. All this nonsense about how sports figures shouldn’t be involved in anything political is just so much nonsense. I think of athletes like the late great Muhammad Ali, who protested against racism and war at the height of his early boxing career, and he was prepared to pay the price for it, which he did. There were other pioneering black athletes who did the same,too. But anyway, good luck to Mr. Kaepernick, whatever and wherever his next career takes him.

  • Political views aside, why should Kaepernick have to demean himself and grovel for a job. What’s the real message being conveyed here? Is it to remind Colin that he needs to remember “his place” in the pecking order of society or of the NFL? He is not allowed to express his personal opinion like other folks? Politics and high-priced athletes make very strange bedfellows.

  • One would have thought that success in the NFL was based on talent. Kaepernick is without a doubt more talented than many quarterbacks in the NFL and that includes a number of starting quarterbacks. The only reason for his lack of a job is the fact that he engaged in peaceful protest on the sideline of games by taking a knee during the national anthem. The NFL as a whole should be ashamed of itself.

  • I think it all comes down to dollars and cents and whether the owners and teams think they will make money or lose money with K. If they thought they’d make money it wouldn’t matter how vocal, how black, how anything he is – they’d snatch him up in a second.

  • Jason Randall Motley

    I agree with Kaepernick’s stance. There is one thing that we as Americans need to understand. All of our actions have repercussions. Kaepernick is free to protest as he sees fit so long as it not illegal, but this does not exempt him from paying a price for his protest. Correct me if I’m wrong but I seem to remember an interview with him and he was well aware that this may cost him his career.
    What I find interesting is that you gave the solution to all of this in your article and I’m willing to bet barely anyone, maybe even the author saw it. White people found his actions horrible, and abhorrent. What did they do? They hit the NFL where it hurt. They stopped watching the games he was involved in. They stopped buying tickets for his games. Some stopped watching the NFL all together. This cost the NFL and his team Millions if not hundreds of millions combined. His team lost a lot of money. You said yourself that there are teams that are afraid of the backlash that would come if they signed him. The loss in ratings, the loss in revenue, the loss in ticket sales. Now if we, the black community could do just the opposite.Why cant we protest the NFL for forcing him out. Why cant we show our solidarity with him by not buying anything NFL related. We have that power. It would also show any up and coming athlete in any sport that we support them and will support them. That way more would not be afraid to speak out.
    But that wont happen. We are creatures of habit. We cant wait to turn on that game on, on Sunday or Monday. We cant wait to get lost in it and forget for a time that the police are killing our kids and by proxy our future. We cant wait to fork over our hard earned money to buy clothing that is most likely made by little kids in some Asian sweatshop to support the very organization that we were just saying is not treating Kaepernick fairly. We cant wait to spend $50 – $400 for tickets to support the very people we claim dont care about us.
    We, the Black community with blame the NFL, we will blame the teams, all for not signing him but we havent shown nearly the same amount of anger as whites have. Oh yes we yell, we scream, we march. We get Rev Al out there. We get the NAACP, but we dont do our part. We dont hit them where it hurts. We still buy their products.

  • Silence is agreement; those NFL players who are silent on this issue are agreeing with the team owners. You either stand for something or fall for anything. In America, we are free to exercise our right to peacefully protest. Kaepernick has not subtlety tried to incite harm on anyone or any specific group of citizens. I’m sure an international team would be happy to hire him. The money may not be the same, but at least he would be playing.

    You have an unhinged person as president who sends out “spaghetti” tweets on a daily basis, yet certain folk want to silence this young man.

  • My brother -in law’s favorite sport is football. He is that one that on every Sunday-or whatever day his beloved New York Giants are playing, is meeting at his favorite sports bar with his friends rooting for his team. He is wearing his Giants jacket, hat , shirt and on his car he has a Giants logo. But, this year, he has told me that he is not going to watch any football because of the way Colin has been ostracized by the NFL. He is especially incensed because the Giants had, last year, a player on its team who was a convicted wife beater. They gave this criminal multiple chances before they cut him. But Colin- a quality quarterback who has taken a team to the super bowl, cannot even get a chance to meet with them. And then we have Jerry Jones, owner of the Cowboys, who also signed a man who has been said to assault women. Nothing Colin did was criminal, unless speaking out against injustice for black people is now a crime, My brother in law feels that the whole sport is hypocritical. I can’t disagree. Colin is being blackballed because the old white men who own the league don’t want any one that they can’t control.

  • Kaepernick’s talent isn’t sufficient to overcome the media frenzy and distractions that will burden the team. Thus, he remains unemployed. This is the same issue that Tim Tebow ran into.

  • “Placism” is as strong as racism in all segments of AmeriKKKan society. It’s what white oppressive supremacists do to keep any Black in their place who speak out against racism. Ask any Black surviving family members of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Fred Hampton, Dr. King and the four little girls who were assassinated by white racists.

    Whites will KKKlan up on Blacks. It’s part of their devilish, wicked nature when someone is bold enough to confront them. If you think the NFL (Ni@@er Flagellation & Lynching) is bad, a pack of colluding lawyers and judges KKKlaning up on outspoken Black lawyers like me is even worse. If I wasn’t smarter than these white racists with their Clarence ThomAss Black Southern simpletons, I’d be under the jail for being outspoken against the AmeriKKKan criminal JustUs system.

    After their sorry-as Tom Brady got his balls deflated, they were running out of good white players so they had to pump him up to greatness again. Brady is a poor sport and a racist. He’s typical AmeriKKKan white tra$h and has no class.

    What’s intrinsically incredulous and insane is the fact that delusional, psychotic whites think Blacks should be patriotic and salute their red, white and blue piece of cloth after how they brutally enslave, beat, whip. lynch, and kill us (by KKKop) even today!

    Kaepernick should LEAVE AmeriKKKa and play overseas where he would receive more R.E.S.P.E.C.T. from foreigners than racist AmeriKKKans.

  • Leave “activism” to the “activist”. They have “nothing to lose”.

  • The NFL has dealt with players’ drug usage, domestic violence, point fixing, racial exclusion for quarterbacks, referees and owners, player doping, murder (by and of players) – and the list goes on and on…but they now have the audacity to assert that Kaepernick’s political views are going to tear the game apart??
    How insulting to the public! He hasn’t been busted doing steroids, or beating up his Significant Other, or spending way too much money on diamond rings and Bentley cars, or declaring bankruptcy, or unable to support his family, or too many children…. WHAT HAS HE DONE, exactly??
    Is Mr. Kaepernick’s ‘fate self-inflicted’?
    Yeah, I guess so: he thought he had the right to speak his mind on issues that plague the country – and CLEARLY by voicing his opinion, it totally impeded his superior abilities as a quarterback, RIGHT?
    The NFL owners are running from this Not-An-Issue, just like elephants frightened by a mouse.
    Disgusted and disappointed!

  • I guess I’d have felt some compassion for Colin IF he had ever given a damn about social justice. He doesn’t vote. He doesn’t lead. One day he decided to stand out from the crowd, and it bit him in the butt. I have no pity for him.

    Take a player like Doug Baldwin from the Seahawks. Doug votes. Doug does much more than just vote, though. Doug works for social justice and he speaks intelligently about it. He leads the march for change. Doug also supported Kaepernick when he first started, as a show of solidarity.

    I can completely respect a player like Doug Baldwin…. but not Kaepernick.

    And Kaepernick has every right to stand up and do what he did. Just like every owner or GM has the right to sign him to a contract, or not.

    And as far as football goes, clearly his skill shave atrophied instead of improving. The guy threw more ill advised passes and interceptions as he went along. He got worse, not better. Check his stats. See if I’m lying. He aint no Russell Wilson. :-)

    • I couldn’t disagree with you more…especially the voting part. After the terrible debacle known as the 45th presidential election last year, you should plainly see that your vote means nothing to the electoral college which has its roots in Rome with the expressed intention of stealing…I mean…controlling elections. Your vote has NEVER meant anything to the system; it SE-LECTS not ELECTS politicians.

      I completely admire and respect Kapernick’s approach to his free speech rights. He didn’t create mass chaotic protests in the streets. He exercised his Constitutional rights against the atrocities happening to our young black men and boys. He has the right to do that just as much as the NFL has their so-called right to blackball and blacklist him from his career.

      I hope he goes overseas and continues his career. This country has shown him what side their on. That’s why we don’t have the progress in this nation as we should and we’re more divided now than ever!

      So if Colin doesn’t address social injustice in a manner you approve or appeals to you that it’s okay to have his career snatched from him? What crime did he commit? What did he do wrong to justify the outcome?? Absolutely nothing!!

      You don’t impress me as being much different than the NFL…

  • Q: Is Kaepernick’s Fate Self-Inflicted?

    A: Depends on what side of the coin you’re on and how you see that coin from your point of view? If you’re White or some misguided non White person who can’t see the American flag and national anthem as both contradictory and exemplary at the same time, Kaepernick had it coming and he put himself in this position because he was one of the lucky ones to play professional football making millions.

    Can’t be an uppity negro dismantling a powerful yet destructive system to its victims from the outside. This opportunity is exclusively for NFL Team Owners, NFL Team Front Office people and the NFL executive staff (commissioner, etc)

  • Whatever their reasons for not employing this guy, it is their lost. He has earned more money than most of us will in a lifetime and just like any of us who are dismissed he is wealthy enough to move on to other more meaningful endeavors. I commend this brother for what he stood for and respect him for not allowing “some people” to think they can control how he feels about whatever it is he feels. The fact is “some people” feel that black people should stay in their place and not have an opinion or they will be dismissed. No body cares about what those “some people” think and they need to get over themselves and live their lives because this man will live his. Great Job Kaepernick!! You Are A Great Man, no matter what “some people” think. Do not let them silence you.

  • I’m not knowledgeable enough about football to opine on whether Kaepernick should be signed. I had no problem with his protest; it was peaceful, effective in getting his point across and not unduly disruptive. However, when he later announced that he had not voted, he totally lost me. Until — and unless — the Russians totally destroy our elections, voting is one of the few ways that the average citizen gets to influence events in our Country. Dammit, Colin, people died for our rights to vote. You can protest all you like, but you — also — need to get out there and vote.

    • Greg Thrasher

      Being free means just that free. We have the right to not vote as well as to vote . I have no problem with people not endorsing or legitimising an injustice electoral system .

      More importantly Voting has always been overrated and an excuse to be lazy in your community. Community development involves more than voting every four years.
      Colin is being sanctioned and punished for being a Black man in America who did not remain docile and silent when he objected to the unlawful killings of unarmed Black Americans by the police

  • I’m not so sure about what he did wrong ??? Wasn’t he protesting police killings of unarmed citizens ? Why does that hurt anyone ? I guess it’s Never a good time to be revealed .

  • He should be applauded for taking a stand and I don’t think too many people would disagree. Where I think he went off the rails is in how made his stand. There was already a group of Black players collaborating on joint efforts across the league and Kaepernick was a part of that group. At some point he went off on his own much to the dismay of his fellow players. As a result he made himself the story and watered down any of the groups planned actions. Also, don’t forget he is unemployed because he made that so when he opted out of his contract and go into free agency. Very risky move given his recent on field performances and his sitting out the National Anthem. He did a great disservice to his cause through selfishness and martyrdom. A group action across all 32 teams would have been a hundred more times powerful.
    p.s. Tom Brady took a beating nationally for the hat incident. All he ever did was say they were friends, he has never offered support, and in all fairness never denounced Trump either, but it’s his choice to be vocal or not. If you follow both his and his wife’s endeavors outside of their professions I think you conclude he is not a supporter of Trump policy.

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