Injuries have played a large role in the NFL through week 6, especially at the quarterback position. Luckily for some teams, they already have capable back-ups to fill in for their injured signal-callers, but for some teams they are running out of options. Teams including the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, including others, have shown the need for better production out of their quarterbacks, but have all failed to realize there are still options out there. Colin Kaepernick, who was famously known for protesting the National Anthem throughout the 2016 season, is still on the free-agent market despite the many quarterback injuries early into the season. With more players following in his footsteps by protesting the National Anthem, it’s concerning that no teams have attempted to give him a chance to start over some quarterbacks that have struggled mightily filling in for injured quarterbacks. Although these players are fighting for slightly different issues than Kaepernick did a year ago, the message is the same; the NFL is filled with hypocrisy.
Heading into Week 3, multiple teams expressed their desire to either stand for the anthem or protest to take a stand for the controversial comments of President Trump. Like many of the tweets we view on Twitter, Trump’s comments were scrutinized by players around the league. Back in September, Trump expressed his views on the protests when he tweets, “Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their country. NFL should change policy!”. In saying this, Trump expresses his displeasure with players’ right to take a stand for what they believe in. However, like many protests we witness over different issues, there is freedom of speech. Without the willingness of Kapernick’s protests last season, players most likely would decide against taking a stand; something that wouldn’t help in making a change in America.
As someone who decided to take a risk in fighting for something he believed in, Kapernick ultimately lost a roster spot based on the distractions that would come along with his actions. The same cannot be said about those who decided to protest the flag this season, who still have a place in the NFL. Both parties are fighting for similar issues, which makes it puzzling to why Kaepernick is still without a job. Although some teams may want to avoid the distractions that have been created from the attention his protests received last season, he is still better than most of the starting quarterbacks playing in the NFL right now.
The quarterback position is one of the most important positions in football, which is why it is so vital for teams to have a reliable quarterback to lead the offense. For many teams this season, they have been unable to replace their injured quarterbacks this season, but with Kaepernick still on the open market, more team should be calling. Last season after re-claiming his starting job with the 49ers, Kapernick finished with a 16-4 touchdown to interception ratio, 2,241 yards passing on 59% passing in 12 games. Kapernick didn’t get much help from his receiving corps either, as his weapons were composed of Anquan Boldin, Jeremy Kerley, Torrey Smith, and Bruce Ellington. These players aren’t the worst receivers in the league, but are certainly not scary for opposing defenses. For what he had to work with, Kapernick showed an ability to make the most of his lack of weapons; something that a lot of quarterbacks are unable to do. Teams including the Tennessee Titans, who lost Marcus Mariota for a few games, have been contacted for a workout by Kapernick, but decided against it as they weren’t interested.
With teams continuing to pass on Kapernick, it is puzzling considering the many players that continue to play in the NFL despite serving short suspensions for issues concerning domestic violence and PED use. Players including Doug Martin, Jalen Collins, and T.J McDonald all have been suspended by the league for performance-enhancing drugs this season, and all still have a spot on an NFL roster. Although PED use isn’t as concerning as violations like domestic abuse, it is still worse than protesting the flag. It all adds to the hypocrisy of the NFL, which many coaches and owners overlook.
There will be plenty of arguments against Kaepernick’s actions last season, but it is clear how impactful his stance was last season. With players around the league continuing to protest a symbol of our nation, it is clear how hypocritical the league is. Whether people like it or not, Kaepernick has started a fight for equal rights that many players across the league are following. Kapernick may not be the same dominant quarterback he was since taking over Alex Smith‘s job, but he must be given an opportunity to make an impact both on and off the field.