Colin Kaepernick’s Bad Read

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Colin Kaepernick has effectively ended his NFL career.

By tweeting out a simplistic – and mostly off-target – reaction to the jury acquittal of a police officer who shot a motorist to death while sitting in behind the wheel with his girlfriend and 4-year old daughter in the backseat, Kaepernick proved he reads the landscape of possible NFL owners about as well as he does mixed coverage defenses.

Poorly.

I think the conventional wisdom that any new NFL employer would be wary of having to “defend” or handle the “distraction” of social media posts like this, misses the point. I think NFL teams, GMs, and owners are convinced that this young man is working with corrupted software right now.

To my eyes – and most, I believe – the incident was a horrifying example of sketchy and poorly trained police work. A simple misunderstanding, led to a brutally fatal act of panic. The amount that race played into it, or an ongoing and systematic oppression of black motorists, is a debate that requires much more time and understanding on all sides.

That said, Kaepernick’s tweet about the police forces in the early days of our nation emerging from a force of slave catchers, is not incorrect. However his claim that the “system” is not only beyond reform, but needs to be “dismantled”, is nothing more than brainwashed milennial jibberish.

One can argue that the “system” did all it possibly could to bring justice to the incident. The officer was charged, and stood trial by a jury of his peers. That jury – which included 2 African American jurors – decided to acquit the officer after nearly 2 weeks of deliberation.

Is this something we’d like to “dismantle?”

If so, what would replace it? I have not heard any concrete ideas from the former 49ers quarterback.

Furthermore, to draw a simple straight line from slave catchers to modern police forces is like throwing a late ball across the middle into triple-coverage. Current policing in America, is buffeted by many cultural forces, making it an incredibly complicated subject.

For example, many police departments are aware that their force doesn’t adequately reflect the minorities who live in their community. Therefore, they recruit minorities to join the force as actively as possible. However, the more sensationalized police shootings of minorities becomes, the HARDER it is to attract those same minorities to wear the badge, since the job is seen more and more as being an agent of oppression, rather than a protector of law abiding citizens.

The former Niners quarterback, is not helping.

The larger issue of Kaepernick’s current unemployment is that he hasn’t spoken since the season has ended. Not a single televised interview. Not a hand-picked sit down with a writer he trusts. Not even a few on-the-fly questions and answers about football from him at a community event.

Kaepernick has either been unable, or unwilling to display some depth-of-thought about his activism in regard to football. A SportsCenter “Sunday Conversation” could go a long way to change minds, or at least end his deafening standoffish silence. If only Kaepernick could have said this off-season that he understands the issue is more complex than a tweet or a meme. And that while he’ll continue his passionate advocacy for reform on his own time, that he understands why some NFL fans may not have been comfortable with the nature or platform of last year’s protests. If only….

The NFL once had an ugly un-written race-barrier at quarterback. Top black college QBs were shifted quietly to other positions, rather than be allowed to be the face of the franchise. Thankfully, that’s long gone. (Irony alert! RG3 was deemed by some to not be “black enough!”) And fans will even accept a lot of unpleasant things about their QB, as long as they win. They accept douchebag QBs (Cutler), pill-popping and dong-texting QBs (Favre), possible rapist quarterbacks (Roethlisberger), perhaps cheating quarterbacks (Brady), even convicted dog-fighting felon quarterbacks (Vick) as their man in charge of brining home that big Sunday “W”.

But if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. It’s pretty obvious Kaepernick either can’t read this defense he’s staring at, or he has chosen to go out as a political martyr.

In many ways, Jay Cutler was in the same boat this year. Talented enough to get you close. Often injured, but with surely another two years left in him. In the end, he proved to be a guy who just didn’t seem to care that much about football. And when the moment came in his career where he needed to do some public selling of how much he wanted to still play football, he just faded away in silence into retirement. (And now, we’ll see if he’s as “meh” in the TV booth, as he seemed on the sidelines.)

The only question left now, is just how long will Kaepernick’s sympathetic core of social justice seeking NFL writers keep banging the drum for him?

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Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

7 COMMENTS

    • I saw that as well. I think what he was theming to say was that racist, white NFL fans will accept a black QB if it leads to winning football.

      Poorly written but unintentional, at least to me.

      • Gah!!! Autocorrect got me.

        I think what he was trying to say was that racist, white NFL fans will accept a black QB if it leads to winning football.

      • You guys did not read the line correctly. Czabe said they will even accept unpleasant things about their QB, and then went on to list the unpleasant things that some QBs have done and were still employed and adored by their fans. You guys trolling or did you just read want you wanted?

    • Thanks Tony. Good point, and good catch. Clumsily expressed. I have changed it to be more clear on my point. Which is that teams, owners, and fan-bases were not accepting of black QB’s as their leader, and face of the franchise years ago. Thankfully, that’s pretty much no longer the case, although closed minded individuals still exist.

  1. Kapernick is a confused man. I think he suffers from significant self-loathing and having no real direction or defined goal in his life.

    Being abandoned as a child has really f’d him up. I know he was adopted by a caring family, who happened to be white, but since he appears to have NEVER seek professional help for his under-lying emotional issues, this is what he’s become.

    Denied perceived relevancy from his self hatred for being of mixed race, he “lashes out”, and like America’s former Emperor, shows contempt for his white heritage.

    If this guy takes his own life, I wouldn’t be surprised. As for your comment about policing in America, I’d love you discuss with you in great detail the misinformation put out about the recklessness of law enforcement when encountering minorities, African-Americans, specifically.

    And yes, I am an expert in that field.

  2. No worries Steve, most common sensed individuals got your point. I’m still chuckling over the whole Rush Limbaugh -Donovan McNabb non story and the self righteous indignation of Tom Jackson that was allowed to be expressed on-air. Right about there I started to lose interest in the 4 Letter as a whole. You just know Kaepernick ,who did this to HIMSELF, will eventually pull some stunt or sue to try to prove collusion amongst the 32 franchises. We’ve become too narcissistic a society to just ignore the constant 24 hour a day headlines and the stupid shit that morons like Kaepernick spout on Twitter. The first syllable of the word says it all. Twits. Hopefully he’ll be able to kneel in the unemployment line without needing any special government subsidized knee pads. Here’s hoping.

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