Anonymous NFL Cowards: Colin Kaepernick Isn't Blackballed
The MMQB published the opinions of four anonymous NFL sources claiming that Kaepernick still doesn't have a job because of football reasons.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Today, NFL water-carrying operation The MMQB published an item that dealt with the Colin Kaepernick saga in a way only those camels could. Granting full anonymity to four league sources "in pursuit of honesty," Albert Breer attempted to get to the bottom of whether or not Kaepernick is actually being blackballed. First, as with all high school book reports, we begin with a definition:
The term has been used so liberally the past several months that I felt like it'd behoove me—and the readers here—to actually look up the definition of "blackball." Thanks to Merriam-Webster for furnishing it:
1. To vote against; especially, to exclude from membership by casting a negative vote. 2. To exclude socially, ostracize or boycott.
I am not quite certain what the point of this was—To be pedantic about its application to Kaepernick? To cut his argument off at the knees? Who knows?—but it is there, right up front. Now that we know what we're talking about, Breer offers the four opinions from three anonymous executives whose expertise, organizational positions, and personal biases all go unmentioned, and a coach whose qualifications are also missing.
The long and the short of it is that these four men (we can be safe in assuming that, at least) told Breer that they had barely considered Kaepernick, and to the extent that they did, they either a.) felt like he was ill-suited for their team, or b.) in the words of the third unnamed executive, didn't "like the guy as a player."
That is the sum and substance of the report. There's a lot of mumbo jumbo about scheme fits and reading defenses and all the usual things you hear when it comes to rationalizing Kaepernick's continued unemployment, but Breer apparently never asked, or these four brave anonymous souls chose not to answer, whether they were influenced by Kaepernick's anthem protests. Breer does at least offer this, after taking the mic back: "And there's no question that the anthem protest is a factor here, to be clear." But he gives no context as to where that is coming from. Paragraphs of direct quotes from four league sources and then a throwaway line from the author so as to appear balanced.
These are decidedly not facts—they are other people's opinions. Here are some actual facts: There is no question that, were Kaepernick a better quarterback, he would have a job right now. NFL teams are willing to deal with an inordinate amount of bullshit (real or perceived) if a guy is talented enough. Greg Hardy got signed by the Cowboys. Adam Pacman Jones is still on the Bengals. Johnny Manziel actually had an NFL career. Kaepernick isn't Tom Brady, so he doesn't get a benefit of the doubt. There is also no question that Colin Kaepernick is a better quarterback than Keith Wenning, or Geno Smith, or anyone currently on the New York Jets. So, how do we balance this equation where it makes logical sense that those chumps have a job and Kaepernick doesn't?
It's not a trick question, it's right there for everyone who doesn't have skin in the game to see. NFL teams either are afraid to bring Kaepernick in because of the dreaded "distraction" element, or they don't like that he protests the national anthem. That is it. There is no "Colin Kaepernick debate." There are rational people surveying a set of facts and drawing the only reasonable conclusion possible, and there are other people who don't want to admit why teams are making certain decisions (including the mouthpieces those teams use to get their message out, and the fans who gobble it all up). The reasons for their reluctance may vary—fear of being labeled a racist, not wanting to be proven wrong should some team sign Kaepernick midway through the season when another player inevitably gets injured, wanting to perpetuate the fantasy of the NFL as meritocracy—but at the end of the day it's because it benefits them.
If you think that assessment is harsh, then ask yourself why these four heroes didn't put their names on the line when speaking to a friendly ear; these guys basically regurgitated everything Breer has been writing and tweeting (and regurgitating himself) since this all began. Why do they need anonymity to say it's purely a football decision? Why do four random, anonymous people speak for a league with hundreds of other executives and coaches?
Richard Sherman had no problem saying it was bullshit. Same goes for his Seahawks teammate Michael Bennett, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, and, most recently, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
By the way, those are four named sources, whose qualifications on the matter are not only available for you but beyond reproach. Sherman is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Marshall and Bennett are key members of their respective defenses, and Rodgers is the quarterback you'd pick to build a team around right now.
They didn't need to be granted anonymity. They offered their thoughts because they had nothing to hide, even at the risk of being labeled distractions themselves. So who is pursuing honesty here, the executives and coaches who so stridently and anonymously sandbag Kaepernick and the reporters that let them, or the people who have played against him and have much more to lose?