Colin Kaepernick Waits While Former 49ers Teammates Get Their Shot

Kaepernick's "crime" is that he spoke out against systemic racism, police brutality and a corrupt criminal justice system.
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He was simultaneously bleeding and vomiting. 

Moments earlier, he'd hospitalized a 70-year-old man he'd never met, and his son, after using the elder's walking cane as a weapon and punching them both. This, according the District Attorney's office, who later charged Bruce Miller with seven felonies for his 2016 actions.

It wasn't a good look for Miller, or the NFL. Miller, less than a year removed from completing court-ordered counseling for allegedly harming his girlfriend, must have seen his NFL career flash before his eyes as he sobered up in jail.

Two days later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement. "I don't necessarily agree with what he's doing," Goodell said.

But the commissioner wasn't talking about Miller. The actions Goodell chose to critique that day were by Miller's teammate Colin Kaepernick, who, for weeks now, chose not to stand for the National Anthem.

Thanks to a mistake by the Mercury News, Kaepernick's NFL bio photo was embedded, instead of Miller's mugshot, in the story about the assaults.

And sadly, for many Americans, the version containing a photo of a black man with no prior record, posted to twitter by one of the largest newspapers in the U.S., resonated more than the corrected version. In fact, it was only four years earlier columnist David Whitley likened Kaepernick and his tattoos to prison inmates.

I've met Bruce Miller. He was as jovial as a mall Santa Clause when I interviewed him in the 49ers' locker room following a 2013 win. He laughed as he told me an opposing player said he looked like 49ers' mascot Sourdough Sam.

This season, the fullback who apparently looks more like a friendly NFL mascot than a man arrested twice for assault, got his second chance. Miller was hired by the Jaguars after four seasons out of the league. Meanwhile, his teammate quarterback who a racist columnist insinuated looked more like a prisoner than an NFL player, still doesn't have a job.

Miller's return to the NFL after legal troubles is, of course, nothing new. And it's not just white players who are given second chances. 49ers' teammate Aldon Smith also returned this season after multiple arrests and four years out of the league. Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress each returned after being out of football, and in prison, for two years.

But Kaepernick has never been to prison, although he does invest in helping those who have been in prison find jobs when they get out. Kaepernick's crime is apparently worse in the eyes of NFL owners than beating up elderly men, repeat DUIs, making bomb threats at airports, domestic violence, running illegal dog fighting rings and illegal firearm possession.

Kaepernick's "crime" is that he spoke out against systemic racism, police brutality and a corrupt criminal justice system.

People say he's been out of the league too long now, but Miller and Smith were out longer. Others say he'll be a media distraction, but Antonio Brown got a job in 2020 after the most bizarre offseason in NFL history. They say Kaepernick will rip apart a locker room and alienate teammates, but he was given the Len Eshmont award, in 2016 after a vote by teammates. Some insist Kaepernick isn't talented enough to be in the NFL, which is laughable considering Ben DiNucci, Brett Rypien, Ryan Finley, Matt Barkley, Chase Daniel and Mason Rudolph have all thrown passes this year.

Every argument against Kaepernick's employment is quickly dismantled with logic, rational thinking and statistics.

But racists aren't often the most logical, rational or data-minded individuals. Even if they're NFL owners.