Bills running back LeSean McCoy made some waves on Thursday by offering up an opinion on Colin Kaepernick that usually flows not from NFL players — the notion that Kaepernick’s talent doesn’t outweigh the distractions. Setting aside whether Kaepernick should be regarded as a bundle of actual distractions (and ignoring the question of whether any of these supposed “distractions” actually affect football players who face the ultimate distraction every Sunday during the season, when someone physically tries to stop them from executing their assignment with thousands watching in person and millions watching at home), McCoy’s comments were curious, for one specific reason.
No, this isn’t about the distractions McCoy periodically has created, including most recently the investigation that nearly resulted in criminal charges for assaulting an off-duty police officer. This is about the distractions that McCoy experienced when the Eagles brought Mike Vick to Philadelphia after two years in custody for dogfighting.
For McCoy’s Eagles, Vick’s distractions clearly outweighed his perceived talent as of 2009. But the Eagles embraced Vick without hesitation or reservation — and without engaging in a prolonged fit of public neurosis over whether they should or shouldn’t sign him.
“[I]t’s the chaos that comes with it,” McCoy said Thursday of Kaepernick. “It’s a lot. A team’s trying to win and not have a distraction on a team. As a player, there’s certain players that can be on a team with big distractions, and other players, they’re not good enough that it’s worth it. I think his situation is, not good enough to have on a team with all the attention that comes along with it.”
Vick, nearly three years removed from playing football of any kind, wasn’t nearly good enough to justify the “chaos” that came with bringing a convicted dogfighter and admitted dogkiller to town. But the Eagles did, and McCoy (who was only a rookie at the time) never said a word about it.
So Vick was able to get a job as a backup quarterback in only weeks before the start of football season despite substantial distractions (and flat-out illegal, immoral, and sociopathic behavior) but Kaepernick can’t, due to “distractions” arising from an exercise of rights that violate no laws or NFL rules — and he plans to stand for the anthem in 2017.
The newest argument emerging in NFL circles is that the efforts by some in the media and groups like the NAACP to point out that Kaepernick is getting screwed add to the distraction. But what are people who genuinely believe Kaepernick is getting screwed supposed to do? Pipe down and ignore it?
That’s the overriding message that permeates so much of the modern NFL. The league and its teams want to be able to do whatever they want to do, without scrutiny or criticism or second-guessing of any kind. The fact that the scrutiny and criticism and second-guessing make Kaepernick even less desirable than a convicted dogfighter and admitted dogkiller confirms that the league and its teams have bungled this situation as badly as anything the league and its teams have bungled in recent years.