Thursday, May 26, 2022

Colin Kaepernick

Okay, now I have two long drafts of posts about gun issues, both of them not as focused as would be hoped for.  What is happening is that I am deeply irritated by some public comments which come my way even though I try to avoid them,and I am trying to fit that into more measured and helpful observations. Prediction: you probably won't get measured and helpful observations here.

In the meantime, Colin Kaepernick has gotten a workout with the Raiders, and everyone is all atwitter about that. I try to reduce messy-looking controversies to simpler formulations in hopes of ignoring the distractions and seeing clearly what is happening.

Kaepernick believes that he was, and still is, a very good quarterback that did not fit the traditional pro football mold but proved himself when given a chance to play. He has a very good point there. He was a running QB when that was still considered the wrong way to do things.  Teams wanted Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, to stay in the pocket and just pass accurately.  Running was only a surprise move, almost a trick play. Cam Newton came out of college the same year and despite being the first pick, had many doubters because of his running style. Both did well on the field, Newton much better. Newton came out of Auburn, Kaep Nevada, so that gave him less cachet, and benefit of the doubt as well. But Kaep was just a bit ahead of his time. He was Josh Allen before Josh Allen. So his road was harder, and that's an unfairness in his life. If 2011 Kaepernick were coming up now, he would be more desirable.  Not his fault.  But not anything racist or anyone else's fault either.  The game changes.  He was early. Life is unfair sometimes.

He was pretty good, but streaky.  He did win a playoff game against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers - that's worth something - but also went 1-10 his last year as a starter. He moved into that borderland between being a legit starter, maybe more in the right situation, versus being a top backup. Lots of top backups resent their lot, not unreasonably, knowing that they are better than at least a few of the starters for some team or another. But there are only a few ways of being a backup, and if you aren't one of those, your market is depressed. You can be the new young QB who is being prepared to be the starter.  That has evolved over the years, but it's a recognisable slot. Or you can be a guy who is very similar in style to the starter to cover if he gets injured. Or you can be someone of recognisable talent, perhaps a veteran at the end of his career, who can come in if everything is falling apart.  With all three of those possibilities, you can make yourself more valuable by being a good guy in the QB room or with the clipboard on the sideline, trying to help the team even if it temporarily makes your case worse. Mentoring the third-string QB. Making suggestions during film sessions. Encouraging the guys whose job you are competing for anyway. While those are not absolute requirements for the job of backup, they are important.

Colin Kaepernick does not bring that extra, never has. He's not the clipboard guy, not the QB room guy. This got even worse when he decided to become politically controversial. He thought his cause more important than helping the team - well, he is free to think that and we all have a cause we think the same about somewhere - but teams don't want extra controversy.  It's a distraction. Some teams will put up with it.  I thought he might be a good backup for Russell Wilson having similar style and a Seattle team not uncomfortable with his politics. But I can't think of too many other places that would want him. Controversy is expensive, and he brought no extras.

His girlfriend has convinced him that this is all because of racism. I won't say that is impossible, but think a distinction between "racism" and "approach to racial politics" is much clearer. He was already on the edge, he undermined his own value. I hear he is still pretty good, but no one is oohing and aahing. You listen to him and know he will go to his grave believing he was blackballed because of his political beliefs. It's an entertainment business, he likely has a point. But it's only 10% of the point he thinks it is. A few NFL players are politically controversial and it doesn't seem to cost them their jobs. No team wants a celebrity backup. Think Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, now Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton. 

There.  Solved it for ya.


Christopher B said...

I've never seen the upside to Kaepernick of getting signed by anybody unless it had been to a starting job within a year or two of being cut by SF, especially now and with the expectation he'll be a backup. He's in the catbird seat of being "tanned, rested, and ready" with no pressure to perform due to the (helpful) racism of the NFL owners, coaches, and League officials. I'm sure if he is signed it'll be celebrated and spun as a vindication that he was black-balled but another season riding the bench is likely to highlight that claims on his behalf that he could have effectively replaced (insert name of struggling or injured starting QB here) were based on vaporware.

The upside to the Raiders, however, is a little more apparent.

sykes.1 said...

Politics aside, NFL coaches are right to avoid running quarterbacks. They have very short playing careers. Cam Newton is a good case in point. He is huge, about 6' 5" and 260 lbs, even while in college. Yet he could not stand up the to punishment inflicted by 300 lb linemen and 250 lb linebackers.

Brady is unique, but he's entering his 23 year as a pocket passer. Longevity demands you stay in the pocket. Quarterback mobility means that you move about the pocket to avoid linemen. Running about produces Theismanns.

Aggie said...

I have always found it ironic that Kaepernick embraces Leftist ideas so vehemently while pursuing this quest. When you think about it, the politics of the left tends to emphasize obedience to the collective, the hive as an expression of unified thinking. No deviating from the thinking is allowed.

And yet in a way, CK continues to fail for precisely the reason that he refuses to accept the purpose of having a functional collective mindset - the team - which must take utmost precedence over the individual when it comes to such a disciplined exercise such as pro sports. He's been holding himself up at the expense of the team, for personal aggrandizement. What team would want him as quarterback? They're there to play football.

I always found his talent to be mediocre and off-again, on-again on the field. It's been more interesting to watch this guy, a mediocre Pro-talent and without very much creativity or personality, being prodded from behind by this activist girlfriend. I wonder if they both realize that his talent isn't enough to bring the glory his (their) ego is craving. We should see more reporting and background on her, that's where the story is. A Rasputin story.

Mike Guenther said...

It wasn't that Kaepernick is/was a running quarterback. Michael Vick was before CK and if not for off field problems, might have had a better career. It's that he had that one fairly successful year, then had the sophomore jinx, after which he stepped on his own junk with the game time political crap.

As far as running quarterbacks, does anyone remember a guy by the name of Fran Tarkington? He had a rather long and illustrious career back in the day and he was known to pull the ball down and run with it.

Christopher B said...

Mike G, I'm old enough to just barely remember Fran.. my hometown is just shy of the Minnesota border in Iowa, and his was the name that popped into my head when I was musing on AVI's discussion of playing style fads and Kaepernick being ahead of his time. There definitely are fads but there's always a few players that either by virtue or necessity buck the trend and some become successful. Kaepernick's style might explain the streakiness (defenses got wise to a running QB as they become more common) but I think it was the inconsistency that got him benched.

(To my first comment, I do realize that he might be planning that lighting strikes and he wins a critical game off the bench, or at least puts in a notable performance at some point. That might be a bit better than a lightning strike odds but he still would need several things to break his way for a payoff.)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Mike G - I mentioned Tarkenton about a decade ago in the context of Detroit Lions QB Greg Landry, who used to beat my high school here in NH.