It appears half of the players in the National Football League have voiced an opinion on free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Several have spouted platitudes about how nice of a guy he is, and how they support him. Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Richard Sherman was more forceful in his agreeance with Kaepernick and his rebuke of NFL franchises.
However, Philadelphia Eagles’ Defensive Back Malcolm Jenkins went a step further in his criticism of team owners.
Jenkins said the owners were craven for not signing the controversial quarterback.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins called teams “cowards” for their reluctance to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick over concerns about public blowback.
According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome support the signing of Kaepernick, but they have met resistance from owner Steve Bisciotti. The Ravens have said they’ve spoken with Kaepernick, and have discussed the possibility of adding him with current and former players, as well as with fans and sponsors.
“This is just some other teams being, quite honestly, cowards, to say that they’re afraid of backlash to sign someone to make their team better, when fans’ input has never been in the equation when it comes to signing people in the past,” Jenkins told delawareonline.com.
“It’s certain owners’ way of making an example out of [Kaepernick] to discourage anybody else from doing what he did.”
Kaepernick sat and later kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games last season to protest social injustice. He drew support from players around the league, including Jenkins, who raised a fist above his head during “The Star-Spangled Banner” for all but one game last season. Kaepernick has also drawn a great deal of criticism for his actions.
He opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March and has yet to sign with another team.
“Four months ago, there was a debate as to whether [Kaepernick] is talented enough or whatever,” Jenkins said. “I think at this point in time, when you look at the quarterbacks who have jobs around the league, and the amount of owners and GMs who have only spoken of what fans would think about his stance. I think it’s safe to throw out that talent argument, and basically focus on the fact that he doesn’t have a job solely because he didn’t stand for the anthem last year, even though he already expressed that he planned on standing this year.
“That message, to me, is loud and clear from owners as to where their priorities stand and how they go about picking and choosing who they want on their teams. It’s definitely unfortunate, but it’s shining a light on just how the NFL operates and what we deem is acceptable. It really has nothing to do with what’s right or wrong, but what affects dollars. That’s business as usual, but I think it’s an unfortunate precedent to set.”
Other NFL players echo Jenkins. Seahawks DE Michael Bennett was asked on Thursday what it would take for an organization to give Kaepernick an opportunity.
“It’s going to take the organization. I think the players have spoken up enough. I think the media has spoken up. It just takes the ownership for someone to say we want this guy in our locker room,” said Bennett. “I think a lot of teams, like we said before, were really affected by what he did and what he did this year. It wasn’t criminal. There’s been guys who have criminal records, guys who have been accused of murder, guys who have been accused of rape and domestic violence who are still in the NFL.
“I mean, some quarterbacks, as we all know, shouldn’t be playing, but they are, and this guy is sitting on the side. We all know why. It’s just hard to fathom that he’s not having a job this year.”
It actually isn’t hard to fathom.
The hubbub around Kaepernick is proof why he doesn’t have a job: he’s a distraction, which is the number one thing the backup quarterback isn’t supposed to be.
Kaepernick isn’t on a roster and hasn’t made a public statement beyond a few tweets in months, yet he’s dominated NFL off-season headlines.
No team wants to deal with that, including the franchise Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman play for. It seems odd to indict your employers with malice for not signing a backup who’s prone to divisive comments and actions that alienate many.
Surely Bennett and Sherman don’t think Head Coach Pete Carroll and Owner Paul Allen are “cowards.”
The common rebuttal of “what about the other criminals” misses the point. Kaepernick isn’t unsigned because of a rap sheet.
It’s because teams are worried about locker room division and fan blowback if Kaepernick were to say something incendiary, such as comparing police officers to slave patrols or extolling the virtues of deceased Cuban dictators responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.
Kaepernick has shown no signs of toning down his inflammatory activism, which is his right.
It’s also his right to remain jobless.