Alex Smith: “The country wasn’t ready” for Colin Kaepernick’s message

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With four full seasons out of football, there’s no way that Colin Kaepernick ever will play again. Recently, the quarterback who was supplanted by Kaepernick in San Francisco spoke out about the shunning of Kaepernick based on his peaceful protests during the national anthem.

It’s so tragic looking at it,” Washington quarterback Alex Smith told Kyle Brandt on the 10 Questions podcast.  “I think [Kaepernick] was ahead of his time, certainly trying to call out social injustice, especially around police reform. The country wasn’t ready. Nobody was ready for it. And he’s sitting there trying to tell everybody through a completely peaceful manner about some of the things going on in this country that had been going on for a long time, and to see the backlash that happened, it hurts. It hurts looking back at it.

“The country wasn’t ready for it, and he suffered the repercussions with his job. . . . I mean, he lost his livelihood. . . . [It was] tragic, sad, but obviously he was incredibly brave and certainly proud of him, to even know him and what he’s done, because fast forward a few years later and I think we all were like, ‘He obviously was trying to tell us something.'”

In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, lip service was paid to the possibility that Kaepernick would finally get a job with an NFL team. But that was never going to happen. The teams that shunned him successfully ran out the clock by feigning interest long enough for people to quit talking about it.

After plenty of false narratives and red herrings, the simplest reason for continuing to ignore Kaepernick comes from the fact that he has been gone from the game for so long — thanks in large part to the efforts of those who wanted to keep him out of the game, permanently.

89 responses to “Alex Smith: “The country wasn’t ready” for Colin Kaepernick’s message

  1. We we’re ready for the message, just not ready for the messenger or the way the message was delivered.

  2. I take people for who they are at face value. I wish we could all do that and be respectful of one another. If this year had taught me anything, it’s that the powers that be constantly push this narrative to distract us from focusing on what they are up to. Easy to eat our lunch when we are bickering amongst each other with identity politics.

  3. Remember when Alex spoke out publicly in support of Kaepernick before he was black-balled? Nope.

  4. He is no longer in the game because he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Face it, he wasn’t that good.

  5. Peaceful and disrespectful are two completely different things, Alex… For instance, I may assume Alex’s pronoun to be he/him, and that may be found to be disrespectful and offensive to him, but it is peaceful.

  6. I think most NFL fans watch football for the play on the field, not for any players views on society. The NFL is entertainment and protests and social awareness is not entertaining.

  7. Kaepernick also successfully ran out the clock with a series of sham workouts and lame excuses for why he wouldn’t sign with a team.

  8. it’s not that I wasn’t ready for it – I’ve heard the message my whole life ad nauseam – I just didn’t agree with it, especially at this point in time. Considerably different.

  9. I personally don’t have any problem with what he did. It’s an important message and an individual can be forgiven/understood for not knowing the perfect way to convey it, if there is one.

    I do think the message itself was buried under all the squabbling over the delivery, and is to this day. Kaepernick led with resentment (pig socks) and going after sacred cows (anthem), and that was probably a miscalculation. It led to everyone focusing on the wrong things and it’s questionable whether it really advanced the issue.

    So part of me thinks if he had used a different approach, the message would have been more widely accepted. But looking at the state of the country today, where millions of people remain in denial about basic reality (see: the “stop the steal” lunacy), I don’t have much confidence that a good part of this country is ready for anything that’s the least bit challenging.

    It should be easy. People are hurting and it needs to stop. But everything is a fight and a reflexive denial.

  10. Getting benched for Gabbert twice, throwing for 4 yards in a half before getting benched and going 3-19 in his last 22 games…there was no message. The dude got figured out and pouted on the sidelines. He sat on the bench and then created this scenario because he was upset. Call it for what it is.

  11. He had no message to stand on. Pig socks? Weirdo girlfriend? Castro supporter? Doesnt vote? Fighting the man while trying to get back into the league? Cashing in with Nike? Add that to the fact he was a one hit wonder as a QB. Got benched for whom again?

  12. And of course him purposely and willfully sabotaging his opportunities to remain a martyr is completely ignored. Where would he be if he hadn’t blown his chance with the Ravens? We will never know.

  13. A great message is for an oppressed millionaire, who got benched for Blaine Gabbert, to tell me what to think. Wait, no… that’s not a great message. That’s just a guy seeking attention because his arm and mind didn’t have what it took to be an NFL qb.

  14. As for his not returning to the game – Almost anything can be forgiven if you are good enough at what you do (see Antonio Brown, Mike Vick, etc.). But Kaepernick had the unfortunate combination of controversy mixed with steeply declining play and demands/expectations for starting and being paid as a franchise QB.

    With all of that arrayed against him, something had to give, but he didn’t give on any front. Remained inflexibly accusatory in his public statements, held onto demands for franchise-QB pay, refused potential for coming back in as a backup. That might work the season after he made it to the SB, but a few years of poor play later, it created no room for making a deal.

    Now, between a steady stream of good rookies coming in and teams straining under the weight of overpaying mediocre QBs, there’s not much incentive to go the extra mile for anyone who isn’t plug and play.

  15. To suggest that Kaepernick couldn’t get a roster spot because his play was so bad is either complete denial or willful stupidity.

    Many NFL fans – unlike fans of other sports – disagreed with his message and, more importantly, most of the owners did. To suggest anything else is ridiculous.

    As a WFT fan, I am hoping Rivera offers him a chance in Washington.

  16. Dude made more money from Nike than he ever would’ve just playing out his career. I don’t wanna hear about how he lost his livelihood cause now he’s not playing a sport.

  17. Reading these forums is just always a trip. Just to see how much America is still unable to process the message, to want to change.

  18. Yes. Equality. The message that your job is not your platform, it’s your employer’s. That’s equality because it applies to everyone. The message that your responsible for your actions and if you commit a crime and confront law, you could make things worse. Statistically like everyone else. We got the message. In the 60s information and discrimination was 1st hand. So you organize and face facts. In 2020 the information is second hand based on hearsay and agenda. You take correlation and protest at your job. We got the message. Thanks Alex.

  19. Kaep makes far more money in his new profession. Hate him or love him, his move was financially genius

  20. all Kaepernick accomplished was to turn many from indifferent to against whatever it was he was protesting

  21. Last week Big Ben said he didn’t care about his salary, he just wanted to play. Kap has had four years to say that and hasn’t.

  22. “dolphin80 says:
    February 19, 2021 at 11:40 am
    We we’re ready for the message, just not ready for the messenger or the way the message was delivered.”

    EXACTLY!

  23. Wearing pig socks, hailing Fidel Castro, diminishing skill set, opting out of a contract were his downfalls. I agree that reform is necessary, but he chose a divisive way to illustrate his point, if that really was his intention. There have been people saying, like on hard knocks that kneeling during the national anthem isn’t disrespectful to troops and the country, whether or not that’s true the move is subjective and if it can be interpreted as disrespectful, your message is going to cause divide and that’s not the way to bring people on with your message, no matter how true it may be.

  24. Kaep was right and a bunch of dudes in America can’t handle it and therefore he was blacklisted, hilariously illustrating his original point

  25. Lost his livelihood?? No, I don’t think so. He’s probably making more from Nike than he ever made as a QB.

  26. The sincerity of Kaepernick’s message is forever tainted by it’s timing: it coincided with his disatisfaction on playing time which meant less money. Since then Kaepernick’s message for social justice has always been simultaneous with “I want to be paid more.”

  27. Proud that I worked with Kap in 2016 during the protests. Proud to consider him a friend.

  28. What message did that clown offer? His message was based on a premise that is full of lies. He extorted and whined. He acted like a spoiled child and demanded respect. He was given a chance to play and he refused the offers. His message is rancid.

  29. Anyone who still is still trying to use the “he wasn’t good enough” to play in the league excuse doesn’t know football and still doesn’t get the message

  30. Half the country not ready for pig socks and Fidel Castro shirts, etc. Guess other half not ready for any of the other junk. Sitting on bench during anthem started after benching for Gabbert, a temper tantrum, not a stand. Role of a lifetime, self-martyr.

  31. Recall reports from the season before from SF beat writers that the team could see who was studying film on their team issued devices. Gabbert was putting in a ton of time, and Kaep wasnt putting in any, thus he was benched THE SEASON BEFORE he started sitting.

  32. bloodonhishands says:
    February 19, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Remember when Alex spoke out publicly in support of Kaepernick before he was black-balled? Nope.

    ==============

    In fairness to Smith, watching Kaepernick take his job while he was injured and then figuratively self-immolate once things weren’t going his way could very understandably not promote a sympathetic response in the moment. We’re all human.

  33. I give him credit. he’s making more off this than he would playing football. cashing in on other’s misfortune. the American way.

  34. In early august of 2016 the rumors were he was being cut by the 49ers. He had to find away so he wouldn’t get cut.

  35. Well, Kaepernick has more playoff wins(4) than Mayfield, Cousins, Watson, Fitzpatrick, Wentz, Stafford, Bridewater, Darnold and Trubisky combined.

  36. What was his message? That he was a below average QB and needed a reason to use people to further his career and financial well being? Because that is all he did.

  37. The flag represents freedom to some oppression to others and there is nothing we can do about it.

  38. 1-6-2021 a day that will live in infamy and Kapernick’s point. Others are treated differently by law enforcement. And the fun part about that day whites have felt for a few hours what blacks have felt for over 400 years.

  39. He tried to “woke” me but he failed. Apparently being proud of your countries accomplishments and the good it did for others, while admitting its flaws is not good enough. We cannot erase our history, but only learn from it.

  40. Nearly every person that is killed by a police officer is male. This proves that the police hate men.

  41. He was under contract which he would have make 15 million from the 49ers but he demanded his release, nobody’s fault but his own, also the country still isn’t ready for his “message of heating all cops”
    We the American people will NEVER be ready for that garbage.

  42. This is a lightning rod article. Will be 1 in comments shortly I’m sure.

    Principals are only a real thing if you can hold them when they are inconvenient, or unpopular. I respect the mans resolve. Hopefully discussions about how we solve our problems collectively can return to a more civil discussion about solutions and not demonizing each other’s position.

  43. Be fair Florio. I agree the country wasn’t ready for his message at the time. But Kaepernick holds at least as much responsibility to why he never came back as the NFL does.

    Whenever he got close to playing, he found a way not to. Face it, his brand as a martyr is more powerful and impactful than as an aging backup QB who lost his legs/mojo.

    Answer us this. If kneeling for the anthem equaled blackballing…..how is it Eric Reid found his way back into the league? How did all the other players who knelt and kept playing?

    At some point CK had to be willing to sign & play, and not just appear like he wanted to.

  44. Happy I got to work with Kap during the beginning of these protests. Y’all still don’t get it. He had a few surgeries before that season and took the job once he was healthy. Some of you have selective memories well I’m here jog it. I’m still w Kap

  45. So if Jamis Winston, Cam Newton, and all the other has-beens had started kneeling for the anthem, got cut, and refused to sign anything other than a franchise QB deal then they would have been martyrs for the “cause”?

  46. Where did idea that the flag only represents the military come from? It represents all of us, even the people you disagree with.

  47. Mothers need to teach their kids to be respectful to others, get a good education, work hard to build a career, and not blame others for their failures. We all fail, it’s how you recover that matters. America provides equal opportunities to everyone, but not all take advantage of their opportunities. And….the police are not our enemies. They put their life on the line to protect us.

  48. The true message should be that if you obey the law then you don’t come in contact with the police in a negative way no matter what your skin color. I’m a person of color. If you are respectful and don’t resist, run from, or fight the police then you go home or go to court and challenge the charge(s). WORD

  49. We all agree that instances of police brutality are horrific and need to be rooted out. But those events are exceedingly rare and not systemic as claimed. In fact, to state otherwise is the real false narrative.

    It is commendable to fight to root out those few police that violate their public trust and commit evil acts. But the message of Kaepernick is not seeking justiice but promoting a destructive agenda that the country will never accept.

  50. Tired of hearing about how police were hands off in the Capitol riot and oppressive everywhere else-double standard garbage. A woman was shot and killed. How many rioters were shot and killed by police in the hundreds of riots all summer? Weren’t at least two dozen murdered by arsonists, etc.? If police had been as forceful in response to all the rioting, hundreds would be dead.

  51. The message was always correct but he chose to deliver it in a language the country wasn’t and sadly isn’t ready for.

    I would love to see what happens to him if he didn’t opt out of the 17mil. I truly believe he wanted out, even during and after the tryout hoopla.

    Anyone arguing the data behind the message needs to check themselves. If you can’t admit there’s a problem you are the problem, or that rock you’re living under is very big.

  52. The country didn’t have an issue with the message. They had an issue in how the message was presented.

    Not standing for the Anthem will never be a good protest strategy. Ever.

  53. Kneeling = disrespectful
    Beating a cops with the American flag = Some Good People, I’m proud of you all

    and that is what this is about. nothing else.
    blue lives matter until well you know…

  54. and more examples of the purposeful twisting of the narrative. the capital police were attacked 1 lost their life, the leader of the country refused to allow backup… Micheal Floyd simply asked if he could have the mercy to breath some air. He pleaded for AIR not to hang Pence. but sure…

    pbdisciple says:
    February 19, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Tired of hearing about how police were hands off in the Capitol riot and oppressive everywhere else-double standard garbage. A woman was shot and killed. How many rioters were shot and killed by police in the hundreds of riots all summer? Weren’t at least two dozen murdered by arsonists, etc.? If police had been as forceful in response to all the rioting, hundreds would be dead.

  55. mjb142 says:
    February 19, 2021 at 5:22 pm
    1-6-2021 a day that will live in infamy and Kapernick’s point. Others are treated differently by law enforcement. And the fun part about that day whites have felt for a few hours what blacks have felt for over 400 years.

    ————————

    And the idiots who stormed the Capitol got more contempt and punishment than Kaep ever did. The only privileged people in America are Dems.

  56. bspurloc says:
    February 19, 2021 at 8:00 pm
    Kneeling = disrespectful
    Beating a cops with the American flag = Some Good People, I’m proud of you all

    and that is what this is about. nothing else.
    blue lives matter until well you know…

    ————————–

    Wrong. Both are disrespectful and classless.

  57. The false narrative continues! As a retired LEO of 29 years I’m growing tired of this! I never ever saw any of this. But it’s people with out a clue pertaining to this field, have the biggest mouth’s!

  58. dolphin80 says:
    February 19, 2021 at 11:40 am
    We we’re ready for the message, just not ready for the messenger or the way the message was delivered.
    ——————————————————————————————————-
    Of course you weren’t. Because you don’t care when it’s people of color. Just want them to play football and shut up. Injustices like that should never be ignored. Truth is, he shouldn’t have had to do it, but he couldn’t take it anymore.

  59. What does the national anthem have to do with football anyway? Why is it even played at games?

  60. Hey bigo1960, maybe remove your blinders. A YouTube search will yield thousands of videos of cops being deplorable

  61. Bravo Alex Smith – bingo.

    But it’s also fair to say that if Kaep was a better player he would’ve been more effective in delivering a message that even the bigots on this board might have listened to. I wonder if this issue would have progressed if a player the caliber of Mahommes had his cahonnes.

  62. To understand how much the NFL thought of him, all one has to do is look at his incentive-laiden contract extension. I’m unsure if No Limit was repping him like they did Ricky Williams, but that contract was all show and no horse… just like Colon.
    To accept a contract like that, with so little guaranteed, you and your representation must know what your real value is. He had a 9 game stretch where he looked great, just like every one trick pony QB in the history of the NFL. Then they figured him out and he was done.

  63. Alex Smith has no agenda – he speaks the truth. Legions of sports fans media and football clubs colluded to effectively cancel Kaepernick’s football career simply for taking a stand (by taking a knee) on the issue of immoral policing of the black community.

  64. Kaepernick made his own decisions and his ability wasn’t enough to keep him in the league. Quit pretending Kaepernick is some martyr.

  65. He overplayed his hand. First he never let on at least publicly what he was trying to accomplish. Then the Poor guy opted out of a multi million dollar contract, so we need to feel sorry for him? Why?

  66. I completely supported and still support Kaepernick’s right to express himself. If he is doing it on his employer’s time, the employer also has the right to take appropriate action (not inappropriate action).
    I also have the right to form and express my opinion about Kaepernick’s actions, if I choose. I believe his message is flawed and it comes from a position of hypocrisy.
    But I don’t think Kaepernick sees his own hypocrisy, and that is not all on him. It is a product of his upbringing, his education, and the culture that has evolved in this country. For that all of us are partially responsible for Kaepernick’s views on the world — especially we of the older generation. We are responsible for what the younger generation is being fed, either through our action or our inaction.

  67. I appreciate this thread. It led me to read up more on the beginning of Kaerpernick’s campaign where I learned how he first was sitting during the anthem, but that after a meeting with ex-Seattle Seahawk and Green Beret Nate Boyer, he opted to change to taking a knee, as military members do when they’re showing respect to one of their fallen.

    I’m interested in the discussion around whether or not Kaepernick’s protests were (a) appropriate and (b) respectful. It seems to me that protests, generally speaking, probably aren’t usually received by the dominant ‘in group’ as appropriate / respectful.

    It makes me think of the exchange Dr. King had with 8 white clergy during the protests in Birmingham in 1963. The clergy had written to King (who was in jail) saying in part: “We are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens . . . We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.”

    Writing on scraps of paper from his prison cell, King replied (just in part): “You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations . . . Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.”

    Last, a thought about Alex Smith’s comment “I think [Kaepernick] was ahead of his time, certainly trying to call out social injustice, especially around police reform. The country wasn’t ready. Nobody was ready for it.” As an ex-Kansas City resident, I’ve always been an Alex Smith fan. I think he’s a class act and I appreciate him speaking out. To say though that ‘nobody was ready’ for Kaepernick’s protest is pretty stunning. Perhaps he meant ‘most white people’ weren’t ready for the protest, b/c I expect that people of color in this country — after centuries of violent exploitation and terror, of which police brutality is an undeniable part — were beyond ready.

    It’s time for a reckoning in white America so that we can live into the country we have long professed to be. In my view, Kaepernick’s protests helped to nudge the country one more step in that direction.

    Thanks again for the conversation in this thread. If anyone feels the picture I suggest is extreme, I’d invite you to check out two resources:

    1. Visit http://www.eji.org (the Equal Justice Initiative) which does a masterful job of documenting / presenting the nation’s history around slavery, lynching, Jim Crow and ongoing racial injustice in the U.S.

    2. Give a listen to this podcast “Seeing White” at https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/

    Peace,
    Pat Jackson

  68. Peace,
    Pat Jackson
    Sir: If you wind up with more likes than dislikes for your post I will be stunned. Anytime Kap’s protests are mentioned, the dislikes for his actions come out in droves. They can’t stand the fact that a Black Man protested systemic racism by respectfully kneeling like some do in Church. It’s because they truly don’t believe in “equality”. Isn’t that how the 45th President got elected?

  69. Kaep is not out of the league for his kneeling, He is out for his messaging off the field. His GF called Biscotti a plantation owner. Kaep did nothing. He praised Castro and stood his ground when confronted by Armando Salguero. He protests against Thanksgiving. He is free to do all of this and the NFL Owners are free not to support him. The players and owners found their own way forward on Social Justice and Eric Reid turned into a violent protestor attacking Malcolm Jenkins.

  70. Dude has NFL level skills. if not as a starter then certainly as a backup. I dont necessarily agree with him but he’s been cancelled because of his beliefs and expressing his opinion like Gina Carano. If its right in one case then its right in both and vice versa.

  71. “Dude has NFL level skills. if not as a starter then certainly as a backup.”

    Dude has to be willing to sign as a backup first.

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