In a new video, the former 49ers QB works out and talks to four former players. “Let me compete. You can assess me from there.”
Former NFL Player Becomes Cafeteria Lunch Manager
Former NFL player Jared Veldheer is swapping the offensive line for the lunch line at St. Paul the Apostle School to prepare healthy lunches for children.
Sportskind, USA TODAY
NFL owners and general managers will have to come up with new excuses to continue criticizing Colin Kaepernick.
He still wants to play and is willing to be a substitute. No one who has coached him or been in a locker room with him has called him a distraction. Jersey sales have shown that he has a passionate fan base that is willing to show their support for him, with cash and credit.
And now that? Even if a team could find a real football reason, Kaepernick had an answer for that too.
“Let me compete. From there they can evaluate me, ”she said in an interview with I AM AN ATHLETE that was released on Monday. “The NFL is supposed to be a meritocracy. Come in, let me compete. If I’m not good enough, get rid of me. But let me come in and show you.”
It seems like a fairly simple and reasonable request. One that teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and even the Atlanta Falcons should eagerly concede. If it wasn’t for the unabashed fanaticism that robbed Kaepernick of a spot on the list in the first place, sure.
And before you all start counting yourselves, of course Kaepernick would have been in the NFL for the last five years if it wasn’t for his protests to bring attention to systemic racism, police brutality of Blacks and Latinos in particular. If the likes of Mike Glennon, Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Chad Henne can land job after job after job, there’s no rational explanation why a quarterback who led his team to the Super Bowl in his second season still holds the fifth in his career interception percentage, one spot ahead of that Brady guy, he can’t even work out.
Except for, you know, petty ignorance.
NFL owners and the people who run their teams have been smart enough not to say the quiet part out loud. Instead, the story has been that Kaepernick really didn’t want to play anymore. That he was only interested in being a starter. That he would be too divisive in a team sport.
Anyone who knows anything about the league knows that all of this is nonsense. But because Kaepernick has spoken publicly so rarely, those “reasons” were allowed to take hold. However, in a meeting with former NFL players Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson and Pacman Jones, Kaepernick dispelled them one by one.
If he really didn’t want to play, he wouldn’t have continued to exercise all these years. He has posted videos of himself throwing to receivers and, earlier this month, he worked out with NFL prospects at Michigan’s spring game.
“What did you see here? It’s five years of behind-the-scenes training to make sure I’m up and ready at the highest level,” said Kaepernick, who took part in the interviews after training in front of the trio for two days.
“You don’t do that if you don’t have a passion and you don’t think you’re going to find a path in that field.”
Yes, even if that means coming in as a backup.
Yes, Kaepernick wants to start. There is no elite athlete in their prime, in any sport, who thinks, “No, I’m fine sitting on the bench.” They just aren’t connected that way. They want to compete, and they want to do it at the highest level.
But after so much time out, Kaepernick knows he needs a ticket first.
“If I have to come in as backup, that’s fine. But I will not stay there and when I show that I am a starter I want to be able to step on the field as such, ”she said. “I just need that opportunity to walk through the door.”
Finally, there is the idea that Kaepernick would be a distraction. As if that had ever been a concern in the NFL. Look at all the teams that stumbled trying to sign Deshaun Watson, despite the long list of sexual misconduct lawsuits against him.
If Kaepernick was a divisive figure or had created tension in the locker room, someone would have shown up much sooner to say that. And they haven’t.
Rather, Kaepernick’s teammates on the San Francisco 49ers chose him as the recipient of the 2016 Len Ashmont Award, which recognizes courageous and inspiring play. Former 49ers coaches Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh have vouched for him, and Harbaugh, now a coach at Michigan, made the call to bring him in for the spring game.
Kaepernick said part of the reason he hasn’t spoken more publicly is that he hasn’t wanted to feed the idea that it would be a distraction. But he acknowledges that his silence has given others the opportunity to fill the void with lies.
And claiming that the NFL really cares about tackling racism and discrimination when all it really wants is an easy photo op.
“You have ‘End Racism’ in the back of your end zone. You have ‘Black Lives Matter’ on your helmets,” Kaepernick said. “Everything I have said must be aligned with what you are saying publicly.”
By speaking out, Kaepernick has uncovered the NFL’s deception. Either some team gives him a chance, or they’ll have to find new lies to tell.
Follow USA TODAY sports columnist Nancy Armor on Twitter @nrarmour.