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Has Colin Kaepernick’s Radicalism Rendered Him Radioactive?

Sunday, March 19, 2017 12:10
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Nearly two weeks into the NFL’s free agency period and the controversial Colin Kaepernick remains a man without a team.

The former San Francisco 49er chose to opt-out of his contract in the hope of landing a big money deal from one of the many quarterback hungry teams. But while such immortals as Brian Hoyer and Mike Glennon have landed lucrative contracts, it is Kaepernick who remains on the outside looking in. Such are the consequences for his choice to merge his personal views on race and society with his official role as a professional football player.

Last summer, Kaepernick became a household name after his refusal to stand for the national anthem during a 2016 preseason game transformed him a hero to legions of social justice warriors and left-wing activists. The at the time backup quarterback then doubled down on the thumbing of his nose at the flag by feeding the fire with statements that were interpreted as being antagonistic towards law enforcement – as well as prancing around in pig socks during practice.

With the rancorous political battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton providing the perfect backdrop for his radicalism, Kaepernick quickly became a celebrated figure with many on the left and in the media. He was regaled for his “courage” and even made the cover of Time magazine. As the season progressed, a number of other NFL players adopted Kaepernick’s militant stance by also refusing to stand during the Star Spangled Banner and in some cases raising the angry clenched raised fist that once symbolized the black power movement.

Throughout the year, Kaepernick continued to double and triple down but the reaction from many fans was negative. The NFL experienced an unprecedented drop in television ratings that many were quick to attribute to the Kaepernick phenomenon. Polls seemed to confirm that he was indeed having an effect although commissioner Roger Goodell has denied it.

It seemed as though the millions of Americans who comprised the silent majority that elected Donald Trump didn’t take kindly to having their entertainment polluted by leftist politics. This was especially the case when those politics were being preached by pampered multi-millionaire athletes who are hardly ideal messengers against oppression. The NFL has long been an escape from the rigors of the rat race and the world of work, life and debt. The games provided a temporary respite from the daily grind, a chance to throw down a few beers and cheer for the home team on weekends. This year millions of viewers who suddenly found themselves force fed disrespect for the country, the flag and the troops, decided that they had better things to do with their Sunday afternoons. Many of them were probably much happier for doing so.

The apex of Kaepernick’s career as a gridiron revolutionary came during the weekend after Thanksgiving. It was in sunny south Florida where he did the one thing that is unforgivable when days before a road game in Miami he praised detested Cuban despot Fidel Castro. Fortunately for him, Castro died mere hours afterward and set off a wave of local celebrations that dampened any serious hostility that may have spilled over into the game. Some wags would go on to mock Kaepernick over his kiss of death.

The 49ers played out the string on their miserable season. When the final gun sounded in week seventeen, the once proud Niners had a 2-14 record and that should come with an asterisk – both wins were against the pathetic LA Rams. Head coach Chip Kelly was unceremoniously fired after his first and only year with the team, general manager Trent Baalke’s head also rolled as the organization cleaned house. The 49ers brought in wunderkind Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as their new coach and hard-hitting former safety John Lynch as the new GM.

Neither will be forced to pull the plug on Kaepernick though after he chose to test the free agent waters essentially making the decision for them. Nobody is biting though. Kaepernick recently announced that he would be discontinuing his national anthem protests for the upcoming season but it was too little too late. The cynics would point out that his decision to change his ways was related more to his need to rake in the dough than out of any change in personal convictions. They would probably be right too. Some are claiming his failure to land a new starting gig shows that he has been blackballed, while others say it’s racism, but there are two other reasons that are probably closer to reality.

First and foremost is that Kaepernick has basically sucked out loud ever since leading his team to the Super Bowl and nearly winning it back in 2013. At the time of his protest that ignited a national firestorm there was a good amount of doubt as to whether he would even make the team. Secondly, while there are undoubtedly owners and general managers who genuinely despise Kaepernick over his divisive antics, the majority are pragmatic business people who just don’t want to deal with the distractions and the corrosive effect of a cancer within their locker rooms.

A non-stop traveling carnival of media vultures and other hangers on isn’t conducive to the focus and preparation that is necessary to field a championship caliber team in today’s NFL. The loudmouths and troublemakers who are squealing that Kaepernick’s inability to land a new job would do well to remember a guy named Tim Tebow. The devoutly Christian quarterback was run out of town on a rail after a miracle season in Denver and was never again given a serious shot at an NFL job again. Once his devoted fans and media outlets like ESPN made him bigger than the game itself and by then it was clear that his career was essentially over.

The classy Tebow is ten times the man that a divisive crumb like Kaepernick is and the wailing that the latter is a victim while failing to bring up the former is a classic case of hypocrisy as well as a serious double standard. There is still plenty of time for Kaepernick to latch on with a team desperate for a quarterback of which there are several. But with the draft coming up next month and a number of retreads like Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick available and without the baggage, it’s probably looking grim for the former 49er.

For now Kaepernick is whiling away his time helping to send food and supplies to the impoverished in Somalia. It may well be that he has a brighter future as a social justice warrior and international activist than he does as a pro football player and judging from his Twitter video he seems to be happy with his latest mission in life and not the surly agitator who shook the pro football world last season.



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