Colin Kaepernick is a quarterback without a home, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of a consistent backup quarterback. But would it make sense for the Steelers to sign the embattled, politically outspoken quarterback to back up quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?
Pittsburgh is known as many things; the city of bridges, the city of three rivers, but most importantly, it is known as “The City of Champions” for its six-time Super Bowl Champions Steelers.
Pittsburgh is a town like many others. It has three large franchise sports teams, but it has still managed to support its blue-collar charm, as well as displaying the diversity that makes the city unique. In the case of the Steelers, their longtime ownership by the Rooney family has a lot to do with that.
The late Dan Rooney was a champion of his own right and personified what it meant to be a Pittsburgh-er and a Steeler. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Rooney has always worked hard, starting out as a ball boy for the team and eventually working his way up to helping his father Art run the team in his later years. His father, Art Rooney, left him the team and through his leadership, the team has become one of the most successful and revered teams in all the NFL, and sports as a whole.
In 2003, Dan Rooney, as a part of the NFL diversity committee, initiated what is now known as the “Rooney Rule,” which requires all NFL teams to interview at least one minority coach when filling head coaching positions.
It may not sound like much, but in the wake of his rule, he has made it possible for minority coaches to have an opportunity at the same level as equally talented coaches of other ethnicities. A testament to this fact is the Steelers own head coach, Mike Tomlin, who is literally the most successful African-American coach in the history of the NFL.
All of this being said, with Roethlisberger on the verge of retirement, what would happen if the Steelers took on one of the most controversial and politically open minority quarterbacks in the league, Colin Kaepernick?
Over the past few years, the team has been back and forth trying to find a backup QB that can measure up in the long haul to the talented Roethlisberger. They even took a chance on signing Michael Vick for a short time to fill the gap. This upcoming season seems to be the wire for the team, with Roethlisberger taking his time on re-signing his contract and his initial contemplation of retirement earlier in 2017.
The uncertainty of Roethlisberger’s career situation is something that the Steelers can’t take advantage of, and they need to find his successor quickly. A quarterback such as Kaepernick could come in and sit behind Roethlisberger for a season or two while learning the system, and take over as the new leader in the huddle.
While the idea of Kaepernick in Pittsburgh seems far-fetched, it actually makes perfect sense. Tomlin is a coach that has been able to take players with troubled pasts–or currently troubled players–and turn them into monsters on the field. The athleticism of Kaepernick would help highlight the running game of Le’Veon Bell.
No, this is not San Francisco and Chip Kelly, this is a franchise that has won a Super Bowl more recently than Nirvana’s break up. Tomlin could help Kaepernick settle back in as an NFL quarterback, albeit as a backup, while still being himself.
Statistically, Kaepernick has struggled since former 49er’s coach, Jim Harbaugh, went back to college at Michigan, and much of it shows his mental fragility as a pro athlete. In his career, Kaepernick has accumulated over 12,000 pass yards and 2,300 rushing yards, with a combined 85 touchdowns.
There have been situations where Kaepernick was thrown into the fire or knocked off his even-keel approach to life in the past few seasons, and his sudden political stance has become a part of that. He sways with the current and suddenly pops back up into existence from the reef, and his political charge is his new voyage.
Roethlisberger has been through enough in his career that he could help the struggling Kaepernick gain the mental edge that fans haven’t seen since his senior year of college at Nevada. It is a move that makes perfect sense for both parties, and would likely be an under the radar move that would rejuvenate Kaepernick, as well as the Steel City.
A blue-collar city and mentally strong coach might be the thing that leads him back to the win column, but it is up to him to use a situation such as this to turn things around.
If it is hard to remember how dominant of a college football quarterback Kaepernick was, reminisce on these highlights.