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.
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?