NFL free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned since opting out of his 49ers contract, and it’s becoming increasingly clear he will probably not have a roster spot for the upcoming NFL season.
Well, it’s becoming increasingly clear for everyone except the most rabid of pro-Kaepernick supporters.
And it’s those same supporters who probably won’t want to hear this.
ESPN conducted a survey ranking several “tiers” of quarterbacks. Surprisingly, it found that Kaepernick would help out at least six franchises.
One big problem: Those bottom-feeding teams don’t want any sort of improvement at the quarterback spot. A bad quarterback is their pathway to a true franchise quarterback via the NFL draft.
But more damning was the brutal dose of truth levied by an NFL front office executive to ESPN. (All emphasis ours.)
“It is really not about his ability,” the unidentified executive said.
“It’s about the risk of what happens to the team concept when you sign a guy — a quarterback — who has put his personal agenda ahead of what we are all charged to do, which is put the team first. As a team builder, I cannot risk that happening again, especially for a borderline starter who needs the entire offense catered to his style.”
Even if one were to concede that Kaepernick has the skills to be a starting quarterback, which is very debatable, playing quarterback in the NFL is about so much more than just raw skill. The ability to lead, to unite and to put team success above all else is crucial.
A run-first quarterback with a propensity to take sacks — one who appears to be more interested in social activism than football — does not necessarily fit that bill.
The executive continued with two shining examples of quarterbacks who value winning as a team above all else, including protests during the national anthem.
“Tom Brady or Philip Rivers would never consider making a stand on something like that, and it’s just because it’s not the place. I don’t disparage what he did. I understand and I’m all for people standing up for a cause, just not while they’re at work,” the executive said.
“As far as his prospects as a backup, I don’t think he is being blackballed in terms of rich white owners saying, ‘We are not hiring this guy,’” a defensive coordinator also told ESPN.
“I think coaches are like, ‘Look, if this kid is not starting for us, why are you bringing in distractions, not for a starter? We have a pretty good sort of locker room and mesh here. What is the risk-reward?’ I don’t think anyone is to the point of making him the starter, and that is the bubble he is getting caught in.”
Harsh, but true.
Whether or not you agree with the message Kaepernick is pushing is beside the point. Whether or not you think he’s disrespecting the flag, the country or those who protect and serve isn’t the point either.
An NFL quarterback who projects as a high-end backup or an emergency starter and divides the locker room and causes distractions by pushing a personal agenda during company time is simply not worth it.
That’s the real point, whether Kaepernick supporters ever want to admit it or not.