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Column: Colin Kaepernick Proves Problem with NFL

Beware the Splinters is Salute Magazine’s weekly sports column, authored by Sports Editor Dustin Brown. The column will be a weekly look at something that has ruffled the feathers of Mr. Brown or is just a topic he feels he needs to rant about or discuss. This week’s column focuses on Colin Kaepernick and his continued unemployment in the NFL.

The biggest topic this NFL offseason is centered around former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his unemployment. There are multiple standpoints and arguments made for and against the reasons, but it all boils down to the man himself.

When the politically charged quarterback decided to start kneeling for the national anthem during preseason games in 2016, people lost their damn minds. I was one of those people at first, but have changed my approach after thinking about the issue more and more. I get it, we live in America, and men and women sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

But that freedom also covers the action of kneeling for the anthem, right?

The actions of Kaepernick ignited a media storm and fans began having a manhood measuring contest about how patriotic they are.

The 49ers even released a statement to put pressure off the team–while slightly supporting him–and onto the shoulders of the rebellious quarterback.

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team said in a statement issued to PFT. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

No one knew what to do other than either oppose his actions or join in, like some other NFL players did.

While he has slipped up some in his opposition of oppression, by wearing a Fidel Castro shirt of all things, his fight is a noble one. And is a fight that he feels is needed to bring a voice to those that may not have one.

Another slip up occurred as recently as a couple of days ago, when he compared law enforcement to the slave patrol.

This article is not about anarchy or the possibility of it, but dismantling law enforcement makes no logical sense. And that is all the focus on the subject from Twitter.

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One of the arguments that seems to be missing from the Kaepernick ordeal is the quarterback decided to opt out of the last year of his contract with San Francisco. He likely did not expect the outcome to get to the point that it is now, but that decision has been a costly one.

Several factors might have played into his decision, but they are merely speculation. Fans can speculate that the 49ers did not support him, or that he would sit the bench for his actions. But he was the one that decided to part ways with the team, not the other way around.

The other side of the coin is that Kaepernick has performed terribly since taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl; eventually losing to the Baltimore Ravens.

But actually, the quarterback performed well during an up-and-down 2016-17 season. For all you number crunchers or statisticians, look at his stat line from last season.

Colin Kaepernick Career Stats
Year Age Tm G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate QBR
2011 24 SFO 3 0 3 5 60.0 35 0 0 81.2 71.7
2012 25 SFO 13 7 5-2-0 136 218 62.4 1814 10 3 98.3 76.9
2013 26 SFO 16 16 12-4-0 243 416 58.4 3197 21 8 91.6 69.7
2014 27 SFO 16 16 8-8-0 289 478 60.5 3369 19 10 86.4 67.5
2015 28 SFO 9 8 2-6-0 144 244 59.0 1615 6 5 78.5 47.0
2016 29 SFO 12 11 1-10-0 196 331 59.2 2241 16 4 90.7 55.2
Care Care 69 58 28-30-0 1011 1692 59.8 12271 72 30 88.9
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/19/2017.
His team had a 1-10 record with him as the starting quarterback, but statistically he was just under his career average for completion percentage. He also had 69 carries for 468 yards and two rushing touchdowns in 2017. And he had to deal with San Francisco using Blaine Gabbert for some of the season.

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How does this all come together from a social perspective within the sports world?

Some players, including Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by NFL teams and owners.

“Of course, I think Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed,” Bennett stated emphatically. “All the stuff to do with the issues. Nobody likes race and politics in sports. That’s one of the things no one really wants to talk about and for him to bring up race and politics, it struck a lot of people in the wrong way. You watch the people that really watch football and it’s middle America. And the people that really buy tickets to the game aren’t really African-American people. For him to bring that into that crowd was one thing they feel like shouldn’t be in there,” via 24/7 Sports.

And some fuel surrounding Bennett’s point came from the mouth of New York Giants co-owner John Mara when Mara spoke with Sports Illustrated.

“All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” says Giants co-owner John Mara, who for 24 years has worked for the team his family founded. “If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I’ve run into.”

Owners do not want to touch Kaepernick due to fear of fan backlash, but everyone seems to be happy with players like Greg Hardy, among others? Is it because these players visually perform better than Kaepernick has? Or is it because unless there is elevator footage of a player knocking out his fiancée made public, the league sweeps it under the rug?

There are no easy answers to social injustice, nor should there be, but Colin Kaepernick is trying to create dialogue in his own way to support people.

Whether or not you agree with his kneel down during the anthem or what he posts on Twitter is your opinion. And like every person in this country, you are entitled to an opinion about everything.

But unlike the NFL, let us try and create constructive dialogue surrounding a multitude of opinions and come together in unity. After all, we owe it to one another to walk in other people’s shoes while someone is walking in ours.

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