We have heard a farcical parade of excuses by NFL owners and executives for why free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed. “He’s not 100 percent committed.” “He’s more concerned with activism.” “He’s a distraction.” “He will only sign with a team if he starts.” “He wants too much money.” Even, “I am concerned about his conditioning now that he is a vegetarian” (Real NFL players, if you haven’t heard, floss their teeth with steak gristle and drink testosterone shakes drained fresh from a bull’s balls.)
Their foot-massagers in the media—especially much of the team at Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback page at Sports Illustrated—have dutifully repeated these assertions with metronomic regularity.
Yet as each of these claims has been debunked by journalists actually communicating with Kaepernick and his people, they all continue to be reiterated. In other words, what is happening is a cycle of disinformation, carried out by media members who might as well wear the NFL brand tattooed on the small of their backs.
I have spoken with Kaepernick, and I can say that he wants to play. He is training six days a week, and he is not holding out for money. He simply wants a camp invite. As lesser back-up quarterbacks continue to be signed, his pariah status has become a spectacle without precedent. This was captured perfectly in a bit of research from Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, who tweeted, “144 quarterbacks have thrown 200 or more passes in the year when they turned 29. 143 were on NFL rosters when they turned 30. Kaepernick is the only one not.”
The last refuge for those reporters who are part of this disinformation campaign, like this embarrassing and much-ridiculed Twitter storm from Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit, is that “He simply isn’t very good. Study the tape!” Another Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback journalist, Albert Breer, has beat the gong consistently that “Level of play is the No. 1 reason for Colin Kaepernick[’s being] unemployed.” (If these names are familiar, Benoit was the football writer who said that women’s sports weren’t worth watching, and Albert Breer is the Red Sox fan who brayed last month that he believed Baltimore Oriole Adam Jones was lying about being called “n—er” at Breer’s beloved Fenway Park.)
I have interviewed several football folk who have “studied the tape,” and they say otherwise. Bleacher Report’s lead scout Doug Farrar said to me, “As someone who has analyzed him back to his time at Nevada, I can tell you that Colin Kaepernick still belongs in the NFL—at the very least as a high-level backup, but more realistically as a starter, most likely in the mid-to-low 20s based on scheme fit. No, Kaepernick doesn’t always play from the pocket with ideal efficiency, but the story about him as a disaster in the pocket is a canard.… I’ll say this with certainty—Colin Kaepernick can still start in the NFL, and the fact that he isn’t on a team for football reasons alone strains credulity.”