It’s mid-November and Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job. At this point, he probably isn’t getting a job in 2017. And it’s possible he never will play in the NFL again.
Take the politics out of it and this is the most ridiculous situation in sports. However, taking the politics out is the hard part.
For some people, the former 49ers quarterback committed the unforgivable sin of kneeling for the national anthem, and in their eyes, starting a movement of protest across the league.
In the view of some fans, and apparently most NFL owners, it made Kaepernick a pariah. This league has numerous players with legal issues, including well-documented problems of domestic abuse. But Kaepernick is outside looking in for exercising his constitutional rights.
The December issue of GQ magazine put Kaepernick on the cover and named him “Citizen of the Year”, which further infuriated those against him. The typical comment was how can Kaepernick be Citizen of the Year when Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt raised $37 million for hurricane victims?
Call GQ on that one, but it strays from the point: A talented quarterback, who almost everyone agrees is better than many QBs wearing NFL uniforms, isn’t in the league.
Whether NFL owners colluded to keep Kaepernick out will be decided in court since Kaepernick has filed a lawsuit against the league. But let’s list a few teams who look clueless at best and complicit at worse for not signing Kaepernick this season.
The Houston Texans are the most recent example when rookie sensation Deshaun Watson went down with a season ending-knee injury two weeks ago. The Texans are starting Tom Savage.
Houston is winless in the two games Savage has started since Watson’s injury. Savage has a 62.2 passer rating for the season in four appearances. He has completed 47.3 percent of his passes and has thrown two interceptions with five fumbles lost and just two TD passes.
And who are the Texans starting this week? Savage. The two backups are T.J. Yates and Josh Johnson. They signed Johnson last week. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2015 and has a 57.7 career passer rating (5 TDs and 10 interceptions).
Texans coach Bill O’Brien said on Nov. 6 they “discussed” bringing in Kaepernick. They did? And they concluded Savage was their man and Johnson was the new guy to bring in?
Had the Texans brought in Kaepernick, not even showed him the playbook, thrown him on the field and said, “Wing it”, the results would have been better than Savage has given them.
And that’s just one example. How about the Miami Dolphins and their $10 million man in Jay Cutler, who was signed before the start of the season when Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The Dolphins are 4-5 and have scored a league-low 137 points with their 34-year-old immobile quarterback.
There are others who could have brought in Kaepernick and likely improved their changes _ Arizona, Green Bay, Indianapolis, the New York Jets. And we’re talking about a league of owners who would sign Satan himself if they thought he could throw for 300 yards a game and avoid pass rushers.
Here are Kaepernick’s career stats: 69 games, 12,271 yards passing 72 TDs, 30 interceptions and an 88.9 QB rating while completing 59.8 percent of his throws. He also has rushed for 2,300 yards and had a 6.1-yard rushing average.
His 2016 stats, while playing for a horrible 2-14 49ers team, were 16 TDs, 4 interceptions and a 59.2 completion percentage.
So why are teams willing to play less-qualified, less-talented quarterbacks when those teams clearly would have a better chance of winning games with Kaepernick? Is it really only because he took a knee for the anthem?
No one knows for sure, but here are a few possible reasons:
First, the media circus that would ensue for any team that signed him now would be a huge distraction. Coaches hate that, especially late in the year with a possible playoff spot on the line.
Second, who knows what Kaepernick is asking? The Seahawks brought in Kaepernick before training camp and didn’t sign him. Coach Pete Carroll said: “Kaepernick is a starter in this league and we have a starting quarterback.”
Does that mean Kaepernick insisted on competing for the starting job with Russell Wilson? No chance of that in Seattle, if that’s what Kaepernick wanted.
Even if it was, that wouldn’t have been a problem with the Dolphins. And they likely could have signed Kaepernick for a lot less than the $10 million they gave Cutler.
Did coaches insist Kaepernick stand for the anthem if they signed him, even though players on almost every team have knelt or sat at some point this season? Maybe Kaepernick would have agreed to that demand. Who knows?
Here’s what we do know: A truly talented quarterback who could help many teams win, a man who has committed no crimes and has even been honored in some circles, is sitting at home with no idea if he even will play again.