The battle of Kaepernick continues to wage

by Gary Shelton on February 14, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Bad news from the front: The battle rages on, and there is no hope of peace in sight.

The lines remain drawn, and the opposing sides remain entrenched. No matter which side of the Colin Kaepernick Wars you are on, at this point you are not switching sides.

There are a lot of ways to look at the lingering Kaepernick discussions. The primary three are these: Either you believe that Kaepernick is a man of principle who has been unfairly locked out of the NFL despite his obvious talent, or you believe that he is the same waste of a jersey that Vince Young and Brock Osweiler have turned out to be, or you believe that Kaepernick deserves to be exiled because of his political stances.

The voices are loud. The convictions are unwavering. There is no room for conflicting views, no allowance for common sense, no tolerance for the middle ground.

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The war wages on. The latest thing came this week when Carolina safety Eric Reid -- also a former kneeler, like Kaepernick -- admitted that he now does not think Kaepernick will be signed.

Well, no duh, Eric.

Most of us have been aware for months upon months that no one was going to sign Kaepernick. You can debate the whys all you wish. But the calendar keeps spinning, and contracts remain unsigned. As the old lyric says, you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Every day, there seems to be a news item. Wednesday, Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor called out Republicans on Wednesday for erasing Milwaukee native Colin Kaepernick's name from a resolution celebrating black history in Wisconsin,

There are certain arguments that will never be decided. Abortion. Trump. The designated hitter rule. O.J. Betty vs. Wilma. And Kaepernick. He has given more people more to talk about than he ever did as a player. He is a one-man battleground. Also Wednesday, a Colorado sporting goods store that had stopped carrying Nike merchandise because Nike is associated with Kaepernick is going out of business.

And so it goes.

The last time Kaepernick played pro football, if you can remember that long ago, it was Jan. 1 of 2017. It is now 2019. Odds are that he has not improved. Frankly put: If you think Kaepernick was an elite quarterback his last two years, you are in a building with a leaky gas pipe.

Kaepernick's greatest skill as a quarterback is his ability to avoid interceptions (critics say that he doesn't push the envelope enough). That keeps rating high. It keeps his won-loss record (28 career wins in 58 starts despite 12 in 2013) low.

The thing is this: Kaepernick seemed to strike a chord in all of us. He has become more of a cause than a quarterback, representing what we want him to represent. He's a rebel, or he's an activist, or he's a victim of a grand conspiracy of rich old men. Lord knows, we love a conspiracy, and we distrust rich old men. Kaepernick is the Kennedy Assassination and the Moon Landing Hoax and Roswell and the death of Paul McCartney all at once.

Want an argument? Bring up Kaepernick's name in a sports bar. No one wants to judge him as a quarterback anymore. He is what we need for him to be.

Again, support him or do not. It's your call. But I am amused that so many people out there seem to think that teams are turning down the Super Bowl trophy when they decide not to sign Kaepernick. The raw truth of the matter is that Kaepernick wasn't a good quarterback in his last days anyway. In 11 starts in his last year, he won one game. In eight starts the year before, he won two.

Yes, in his career, Kaepernick went to a Super Bowl. So did Trent Dilfer, and he was replaced by the next year. The truth is that that's the only winning season Kaepernick ever had. Yeah, he had a good year; so did Josh Freeman.

Look the NFL is a constantly changing league. Quarterbacks who win one game or two are constantly replaced, especially if they have a different skill set than normal, especially if their last year was underlined by a loss of body weight that concerned coaches.

Then there is the argument that Kaepernick should be in the NFL because a lot of other bad quarterbacks are in the NFL. That's not the way teams think. No one goes into the room and talks about the lowest common denominator. The league is made up of starters, solid backups who can steal you a game or two and promising kids who might turn out to be something. Kaepernick isn't one, and he isn't three. Maybe he could have been in the second group if he pursued a job hard enough. Maybe not.

I'll be honest. Perhaps I should care more about his protests than I do. I am child of the 60s, the flag-burning era of this country. It makes no never-mind to me what Kaepernick wears on his socks if he can get the ball to a receiver. I figure our basic freedoms protect protesters.

But every time Pro Football Talk carries a Kaepernick item, the comment section fills up immediately. Some fans think there is Kaepernick, and after that, there is Benedict Arnold. Some think there is Kaepernick, and after that, there is Tom Brady. The two arguments are constantly mixed up.

So what does it say about us that we continue to argue the point? No one argues for Robert Griffin III (who also won three games in the last two seasons in which he started). No one argues for Cody Kessler or Trevor Simean or Brian Hoyer.

I think part of the reason that we continue to debate Kaepernick is that we just don't know so much about his situation. We don't know how much money he's asking for, or whether he originally wanted to be a starter, or what kind of shape he's in. We don't know how many owners were turned off by his won-loss record and how many by his politics. We don't know if he'd be worth the circus someone would be inviting to camp (think Tim Tebow times ten).

In 2013, Kaepernick went 12-4 in the regular season and reached the Super Bowl. But overall, that season made him a one-hit wonder. Hey, Freeman was 10-6 (25 touchdowns and six interceptions) for the Bus in 2010.

Robert Griffin Jr. was 9-6 for Washington in 2012 and fizzled. Tebow reached the playoffs and won seven of his 11 starts for Denver in 2011. Trent Dilfer was 10-6 with the Bucs in 1997 (and won the Super Bowl with Baltimore in 2002).

Scott Mitchell of Detroit threw for 32 scores and went 10-6 in 1995. Mark Rypien of the Redskins won 14 games and the Super Bowl in  1991; he won only 14 more in the rest of his 55 starts. Don Majkowski won 10 games in 1989 for Green Bay; he never had another winning record in any season. In 1998, Atlanta's Chris Chandler was 13-1 and reached the Super Bowl; he never had another winning seaosn.

The world didn't cry out that any of those guys disappeared.

The point is this. Good seasons happen, but with average quarterbacks, they often come one at a time. No one remembers their names unless they become celebrities, and causes.

And so we argue. And we fume. And we stamp our feet that we cannot make everyone agree.

In the meantime, there is noise. Soon, someone else will sign a backup quarterback. Soon, the debate will start all over again.

Next time, there won't be any agreement, either.

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