When it comes to politics, my three primary issues are these: (1) I don’t want to tell anyone else how to live their life; (2) I don’t want anyone to tell me how to live my life; and (3) I don’t like being lied to.
When it comes to Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing unemployment, I feel like I’m constantly being lied to.
The evidence continues to mount of an effort by NFL teams to push false narratives about Kaepernick. And they’re working.
In March, as the lack of interest in Kaepernick became more glaring, someone told Dan Graziano of ESPN.com that Kaepernick wants both a salary in the range of $9 million to $10 million per year and a chance to compete for a starting job. The truth was, and still is, that no one knows what Kaepernick wants, because the conversation has never progressed to the point where anyone has asked Kaepernick or his agents what he wants.
The truth doesn’t matter, because nearly two months later the perception lingers that Kaepernick wants both a salary in the range of $9 million to $10 million per year and a chance to compete for a starting job.
Then there were the concerns about Kaepernick’s diet, which were articulated even as folks were marveling at Tom Brady’s avocado ice cream obsession, with no fear that he may be missing out on the protein and nutrients necessary to thrive on a football field by not scarfing down steaks and burgers and ribs and other assorted man meats.
More recently, Peter King of TheMMQB.com cited unnamed 49ers sources who believe that Kaepernick “might actually rather do social justice work full-time than play quarterback.” That notion was quickly shot down, but in post-truth America, facts don’t matter. What matters is equipping those who see the world a certain way with something tangible to which they can point to support those views, regardless of whether it’s accurate.
As some in the media continue to express confusion and dismay at the notion that quarterbacks with far inferior track records and accomplishments (most recently, the player who was benched for Kaepernick last season got a job), the target keeps moving. Others in the media are legitimizing the bull’s-eye shi(f)t.
Consider this recent tweet from Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com: “The No. 1 reason Colin Kaepernick is unsigned: He’s not considered a starting-caliber player by any NFL evaluator anymore. Work from there.”
OK, I will. For starters, it’s hard to believe that Albert has canvassed every single NFL evaluator for an opinion on whether Kaepernick is a starting-caliber NFL player. Moreover, it’s impossible to rule out that any, some, or all of them are telling something other than the truth, especially in light of this assessment from a guy who proved in a very short time that he knows how to thrive in the NFL.
“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them,” Michigan coach and former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told me in March regarding what advice he would give to NFL teams. “I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player. . . . He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”
In a league where there aren’t nearly enough good quarterbacks to go around (as this year’s free-agency signings prove, there aren’t enough bad quarterbacks to go around, either), how is that not enough to get Kaepernick a single phone call, visit, or workout?
That’s the key thing to remember here. Kaepernick hasn’t even gotten a chance to talk to a team, to throw for a team, to run for a team. It’s fairly difficult for any NFL evaluator to conclusively determine that Kaepernick isn’t a starting-caliber player without that information.
Which is probably why he hasn’t had a phone call or a visit or a tryout. Teams aren’t interested in acquiring any evidence that may change the narrative on Kaepernick, since the current narrative fits better with the unspoken notion that he’s regarded as undesirable by any/every given team because: (1) animosity from fans over his National Anthem protest may alienate paying customers; (2) he’ll bring distractions to the team; and/or (3) the owner disagrees with his politics and refuses to risk Kaepernick using the platform of an NFL roster spot to advance his agenda.
For the various teams that have a need a quarterback, the truth behind not even calling Kaepernick resides in one or more of those three reasons. Whether those are legitimate reasons for shunning Kaepernick becomes an issue that can never really be addressed because of the stream of pretexts behind which teams have been hiding. The mere fact that teams feel compelled to conjure a reason other than the truth for ignoring Kaepernick suggests, however, that they realize admitting the truth will create complications and consequences far worse than being periodically called out for basing Kaepernick’s employment on alternative facts.