Kaepernick sacked himself one last time with workout histrionics
Colin Kaepernick and his agents took the bait, just as the NFL thought they would. And because of that the likelihood Kaepernick will ever restart his NFL career is now all but nil.
Did the NFL try to slip some sort of unusual waiver requirement in front of Kaepernick at the 11th hour prior to the league-wide tryout organized by the suits in New York? Although the public hasn’t seen it, let’s assume they did because the league long ago proved willing and well capable of its own brand of dirty tricks when it comes to dealing with its employees.
Was moving the workout on two-hours' notice in response likely to enhance Kaepernick’s value to a team interested in him but fearful of the potential disruptive baggage that comes with him? Hardly, but for the purposes of this discussion put that aside, as well, and blame the logistical snafu on the league and not on Kaepernick or his supporters.
Take both of those situations and hold Kaepernick blameless. But what’s up with the t-shirt, dude?
When Kaeperick finally arrived at the workout site -- one he chose that is about an hour from the original site at the Falcons’ training facility -- he was sporting a t-shirt that read “Kunte Kinte.’’
So who was that?
Kunte Kinte was a fictional character created by the author Alex Haley based on Haley’s novel and 1976 TV series “Roots.’’ Haley has said Kinte’s character was based on stories he’d been told about a relative captured in Africa and brought to the United States as a slave. According to the story, Kinte rejected the new name imposed on him by the slave owners and refused to speak to anyone.
After being recaptured during the last of four escape attempts he was given the option of being castrated or having his right foot cut off. He chose the latter and suffered the rest of his life in many ways.
Many have described Kaepernick as a victim of blacklisting by the NFL after he began kneeling silently during the National Anthem as a protest over significant social justice issues that exist in America. That he is a far better talent than many of today's quarterbacks in the NFL is clear, in my opinion. Kaepernick has not been sidelined for three years because he is the 97th-best professional quarterback in the country. He is not playing because he protested injustice as he saw it in a lawful way.
His bosses, some fans and TV advertisers didn’t like it. That is a given, unless you live your life with your head in the sand.
Having said that, there is no comparison between a multi-millionaire football player and Kunte Kinte. For Kaepernick to think it wise to try and make that connection at a job interview is ridiculous and, frankly, counterproductive if his aim is really to go back to work in the NFL.
One guy was enslaved, beaten, degraded and had his foot hacked off. The other was paid millions to play football and chose to walk away from his contract to seek free agency when he was damn near radioactive in the eyes of many NFL executives and coaches. He then paid millions to do a series of Nike ads after he couldn’t find a job and finally reached a multi-million dollar settlement to DROP HIS LAWSUIT against a league he quite rightly felt had blackballed him.
How does that equate his fate with Kunte Kinte’s? It does not. A labor dispute does not make you a slave. A free speech dispute does not make you a slave. Being paid millions to play football and then several million more to go away does not make you a slave.
But, frankly, wearing that t-shirt to a job interview makes you either a guy who really isn’t looking to get hired or a moron. There is no other available position knowing what we know about both “woke’’ Colin Kaepernick and a very “unwoke’’ NFL.
Coaches dread “distractions.’’ When Tom Coughlin was a coach he would postpone his own August 31 birthday celebration because, apparently, he thought a birthday cake in training camp was a “distraction.’’ If pro football coaches think “Happy Birthday, Dad’’ is a distraction, what do you think they’d conclude Kaepernick would be after the fiasco that his workout became?
Coaches love talent and will put up with a lot, including criminal behavior, to get it. That has been shown many times. They’ll even put up with some distractions. But what they won’t put up with is someone they believe might divide their locker room along political lines.
Wife beater vs. Born Again Christian? No problem.
Braggart vs. Mr. Humble Pie? We can deal with it.
Kunte Kinte in the locker room? See you later.
After the conclusion of what some scouts say was an impressive throwing session, Kaepernick briefly addressed the media after signing autographs and giving the mandatory raised closed fist to the sky as if he was Nelson Mandela freed from Robben Island. What he said was, “I’ve been ready for three years, I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why.’’
Had Kaepernick stopped there who, frankly, could dispute what he said or claim not to understand why he said it? Not even the reluctant birthday boy, Tom Coughlin.
But then he added, “We’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people. We’re out here, we’re ready to play, we’re ready to go anywhere. I’ve been ready, I’m staying ready, and I’ll continue to be ready. We’ll be waiting to hear from Roger Goodell, the NFL, the 32 teams.”
Wait a minute, Colin. You weren’t even “ready’’ to go to the Falcons’ facility to conduct your workout even though that’s where NFL scouts assembled because you had a beef about whatever you had a beef about. So you moved the workout an hour’s drive away, leading some scouts to go to the airport and fly home.
“We’re ready to go anywhere,’’ became “we’re ready to go anywhere if that’s where we want to go when we want to go there.”
Imagine a guy at a job interview telling his potential employer he doesn’t want to conduct the interview where the employer wants it. He insists on going elsewhere. Does he get hired?
Perhaps using the Falcons’ facility was contingent on Kaepernick signing what his side claims was a non-standard waiver and the league claims was a standard injury waiver. If so, skip the Kunte Kinte routine and just tell everyone you’re being asked to sign something unusual; then produce it ... not a t-shirt ... and move on.
Perhaps this was indeed a setup by NFL officials. Certainly it was odd to stage a workout on a Saturday rather than a Tuesday (the traditional NFL off day when such workouts are conducted). But so what? They’re pulling your chain? Of course they were, but so what?
If you want the job, you often go where the employer dictates on the day he dictates it. Simple as that. You want the job? You show up.
Was the waiver shady? I don’t know because I haven’t seen it. But let’s assume it was. You explain that and move the workout to your own location. Okay, I get it.
But the t-shirt was being provocative at a moment when, if Colin Kaepernick really wanted to go back to work as quarterback, it was unwise to be so. You’ve already taken millions to drop a lawsuit against the NFL. Frankly, you already spit the bit of protest at that point. You sold out for the money. So can the slavery analogy.
You took the money to quit the fight. You lost your job to exercise your right to make a political statement in the NFL’s living room, and that’s admirable. But you weren’t willing to lose a foot – or more bucks – over it.
So what this latest dust-up looked like was a guy who doesn’t trust the NFL, which is completely understandable -- and who mistakenly thinks he has leverage over them at the moment he does not.
Or, it was a guy who doesn’t really want to go back to work and was just trying to orchestrate one more circus before he disappears from the radar screen for good.
What it was not, however, was Kunte Kinte fighting the slave master. To suggest that is an insult to those who did face that kind of oppression. You took the money to quit the fight, Colin. Slaves never had that option.
Did the NFL jerk him around with this last-second workout and the questionable injury waiver? Surely they did.
Did they pay Kaepernick to go away, or at least make his lawsuit go away? Surely they did.
Did Colin Kaepernick take the money and run? Surely he did.
Kunte Kinte, with half his right foot chopped off never had either option. Colin Kaepernick would have been better served to show up wearing a Lamar Jackson t-shirt that says, “I can run and throw like this guy, remember?’’
That wouldn’t have been viewed by NFL coaches and personnel men as a distraction. It would have been a reminder of what he once could do on a football field.
What he did instead was make it easy for the NFL to say, “See. He’s just what we thought. A headache.’’
After that workout fiasco the NFL didn’t have to run away. Colin Kaepernick took care of that himself.