Many people have weighed in on the controversy surrounding free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Just a few of the people who have commented on Kaepernick’s national anthem protest or current limbo status include former teammates (Torrey Smith), former rivals (Michael Bennett), a supermodel (Kate Upton), a socialist councilwoman (Kshama Sawant), a Supreme Court justice (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and the President of the United States (Donald Trump).
New York Giants owner John Mara is the latest person to dip his toe into the Kaepernick cauldron.
Mara said the fan backlash against Kaepernick was both intense and extensive.
From Yahoo! Sports:
The NFL party line, as articulated by Commissioner Roger Goodell, is that Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment is football related, Giants owner John Mara has acknowledged off-field concerns contributing as well.
Mara told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com that the Giants didn’t discuss signing Kaepernick this offseason, and that they’ve heard from many fans who would be angry if they did.
“All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue,” Mara said. “If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into.”
The Giants signed kicker Josh Brown to a new contract after he was arrested for domestic violence, and kept him on the team last year after he was suspended for domestic violence. It’s extraordinary that Mara says he heard from more fans about Kaepernick — a player on another team, who didn’t do anything illegal — than about Brown.
Mara’s comments say a lot about Kaepernick’s continuing unemployment: For many teams, the decision not to sign Kaepernick may go beyond whether the coach or G.M. think Kaepernick can help on the field. It may go up to the owner, who fears Kaepernick would hurt the franchise off the field.
USA Today went further and had pointed criticism for Mara:
That’s why Mara’s statement is dangerous. It indicates a non-violent protest in support of underrepresented communities is worse than domestic violence crimes or DUI-ralted [sic] arrests, like Aldon Smith, who was snatched up by the Raiders weeks after his fifth arrest as a 49er.
Ray McDonald was signed with the Bears after two domestic violence-related arrests with San Francisco (and was later cut after another arrest). Greg Hardy was famously given a contract by the Cowboys after being found guilty by a North Carolina court of physically abusing his girlfriend. Hardy won his appeal because the victim didn’t show up to testify.
Kaepernick, unequivocally, is one of the best 64 quarterbacks in the NFL and deserves a job. The reason he’s unsigned remains unfair. Mara confirmed that much with what he said.
These two articles are rooted in the notion of “unfairness”, but they miss the broader point. The NFL is a bottom-line business. Coaches and front office personnel put their livelihood on the line every week with each decision.
Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville labeled the NFL “Not For Long” because coaches, players, and executives are routinely discarded for poor performance. When that happens, they have to uproot their families to move to the next job.
So if teams strongly believed Colin Kaepernick could help them win football games, he would be on a roster. But teams have determined that Kaepernick’s upside doesn’t outweigh his baggage.
One big reason for this is the uniqueness of the quarterback position. That’s the leader of the team. As a result, the backup quarterback is supposed to be neither seen nor heard. That’s an impossibility with Kaepernick, which could lead to locker-room strife. If Kaepernick were a backup linebacker, he would be on a roster.
Kaepernick proponents are using a moral equivalency between what he did versus the felonious actions of other players. That ignores the flashpoint Kaepernick has become and what that could mean for team chemistry.
NFL teams aren’t in the business of fairness. They’re in the business of winning games. Clearly 32 NFL teams don’t believe Kaepernick is a net positive.