I’ve written quite a bit about Colin Kaepernick, and I’ve made my stance pretty clear. He has made some flat out ridiculous statements, and isn’t talented enough for the distraction to be worth it. The biggest reason he doesn’t have a job is himself, and he lacks the self-awareness to realize he is damaging his career.
I give that background because another athlete has made a political statement that many will view as similar, and I don’t have a problem with it. Is that hypocritical? No. Here’s why.
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) June 21, 2017
From a football perspective, it’s simple. The first sentence of the Eleven Warriors article sums it up.
Cleveland Heights four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith didn’t have much to prove during Ohio State’s one-day camp on Saturday, as he’s already one of the most sought-after prospects in the country.
Colin Kaepernick isn’t quite “sought-after”, he’s marginal. When you’re marginal, you don’t get to make waves on hotbutton issues. If you’re a distraction, teams don’t want you. This is a sports truth that isn’t hard to grasp.
Let’s move to the bigger issue. “I hope I don’t get killed for being black today,” is not the same as comparing the police to the slave patrol, or any of the other divisive statements Kaepernick has made. Smith’s message isn’t divisive or inflammtory, he’s not pushing the “pigs in a blanket” narrative.
“I decided to wear the shirt because I wanted to bring attention to the epidemic of blacks being killed at an alarming rate,” Smith said. “What we would like to do is have people talk about these issues to reduce the murder rate of African-Americans.”
“The shirt was created to bring light into the every day problems that blacks face between police and black-on-black crimes,” Tyreke’s older brother, Malik, said.
The negative reaction to this shirt hinges on the idea that this is an inherently anti-cop message. Instead, it’s anti-murder of young black men, in any form or fashion, by anyone. Kaepernick disrespected what the American flag represents, and those who have fought and died to defend this country, along with defending an evil dictator, and a host of other controversial statements. Smith is promoting a healthier black community. Don’t act like those are the same.
Smith’s message is also a dose of reality, while not demonizing and stereotyping an entire group. I know a lot of police officers, and they are great people. Just as in any group, a few bad apples have ruined their perception. Demonizing and stereotyping is how we get to these points in the first place. With that said, it’s hard to watch the Philando Castile video , know that the officer got off scot-free, and then act like things are fine. Is the system broken? Yes. Is driving a wedge deeper and deeper between law enforcement and the black community the answer? No, it only makes things worse. Kaepernick chose the latter, Smith didn’t.
People only read headlines. They’ll see the headline, the shirt, and they’ll make the comparison. That’s a shame, because Tyreke Smith isn’t Colin Kaepernick. He’s not even close.
He’s at it again. Colin Kaepernick, on Thursday, sent out a tweet in which he compared law enforcement to the runaway slave patrols that existed in pre-Civil War America.
A system that perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence, doesn’t need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled! pic.twitter.com/BVVPVZIQyD
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) June 16, 2017
Politically, this is a complex discussion. Do I think that every move law enforcement makes is perfect and justified? Absolutely not, but in the ongoing debate over Kaepernick’s lack of a job, nuance doesn’t matter.
Now, I wrote about this when the Seahawks signed Austin Davis over Kaepernick, and my take hasn’t changed one bit. In fact, it’s only strengthened. Kaepernick is a distraction, and one that his talent doesn’t validate.
If you don’t have the self-awareness to avoid sending a tweet stereotyping police officers, I don’t want you playing quarterback for me. If you don’t have the self-awareness to know how ridiculous it is to defend Fidel Castro to the face of a Cuban reporter, I don’t want you playing quarterback for me. If it is blatantly obvious that football is not your first priority, I don’t want you playing quarterback for me.
None of this really hinges on where you stand politically, but more the sheer stupidity of Kaepernick. If I was desperate for a job, the last thing I would do is go on social media and directly contradict the politics of my prospective employer. This would be my exact policy if the roles were reversed. If you’re a conservative, wanting to be hired by someone who is extremely liberal, and you can’t bite your tongue, you’re an idiot.
There is also the possibility, and it’s a real one, that he just doesn’t care. Outside of being political, he hasn’t said a ton publicly. There have been countless reports throughout this whole saga, many of which have had their legitimacy challenged. Kaepernick supporters have said he wasn’t actually asking for the big contract that was being floated out there, but it remained a point of contention, and still does. Why? Because all we hear is surrogates and supporters. If you’re following politics, you know how unreliable of a source that really is. There has still not been a peep heard from the horse’s mouth on the number. How hard is it to publicly say, “Yeah, I never said I said eight million was my minimum.”? How hard is it to publicly denounce things said about you that are untrue?
This reminds me of Tim Tebow. Remember that guy who, we were told, was someone who loved nothing more than football and would do anything to play? Well, he didn’t love it enough to play tight end when the Buccaneers came calling. Kaepernick is similar. His supporters will tell you, “He just wants to play! He just wants to be on a roster!”, and yet, he continues to directly hurt his chances at getting a job.
If he refuses to do a few simple things, he’s either an idiot, or he doesn’t care. If he’s an idiot, I really don’t want him playing quarterback on my team. If he doesn’t care, why do we?
We’ve signed quarterback Austin Davis.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) June 5, 2017
….and not Colin Kaepernick. Now, I’m not losing any sleep over this, but Colin is far better than Davis. He also fits the Seahawks system, again, far better than Davis.
At the same time, Davis was almost certainly cheaper than Kaepernick, and also has much less baggage. It’s baggage that I’ve talked about a ton on radio, but haven’t here. To make it brief, I’ll just lay out the timeline and what my general opinion of each event was.
1. Wearing a Dolphins hat on Instagram while a member of the 49ers: Pretty simple, thought it was immature.
2. The Anthem protest: Didn’t agree, but I understood it. Defended his right to do it while many called for his suspension.
3. Pledging his first million to charity: Loved this move. Dude put his money where his mouth was. The protest still didn’t make a ton of sense, but all least he’s doing some good.
4. Socks depicting cops as pigs: This came out after the anthem protests, but was from a few years before. Thought it was extremely immature, and pretty disrespectful.
5. Fidel Castro t-shirt: Obviously, dumb as fuck.
6. Defending his Fidel Castro shirt to the face of a Cuban-American reporter who fled Cuba: Even dumber. This one completely baffled me. As people celebrated Castro’s death in the streets of Miami, Colin Kaepernick tried to tell a person that witnessed his reign firsthand, that Castro wasn’t all bad because of “literacy rates”.
7. Announcing he would no longer protest the Anthem: What had changed? Did he accomplish anything? This made the original protests feel a lot more hollow.
I’m sure I left out some stuff. Essentially, I’m hot and cold on this guy. Does some good, says some stupid.
At the end of the day, however, that’s a pretty long list of public controversies (excluding the million to charity), especially for a guy that is looking for a backup quarterback job.
And whether you want to argue the merits of each incident, he knew they would be controversial, and he knew they would bring a ton of attention. He chose to become a distraction at a time when he knew he had become a lower-tier passer, one who was by no means guaranteed a spot on an NFL roster. All while having a skill set that fit a small number of offenses in the league.
Do I wish he had a job? Of course. You never want someone to be out of a job. But this isn’t a great disservice. This is a case of a marginal quarterback being left out because he is a distraction.
But hey, try baseball. Seems to be working out for Tebow.