Kaepernick still on the outside looking in, even after many NFL Quarterbacks go down for the year.

Jesse Gomez

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Another one bites the dust. Although the 2019 NFL season is still in its infancy, we have seen countless star and veteran quarterbacks go down with injuries, some for the remainder of the season, others for a projected significant time. Yet, free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed.   

To say new faces are appearing this season is a vast understatement. The first three weeks of the NFL season are playing out more like a George R.R. Martin novel than traditional exciting and thrilling football games.

 Super Bowl hopes have been dashed with the blink of an eye. The Saints were steadfast in righting the wrongs of 2018, until MVP and former champion Drew Brees tore his right-thumb ligament, sidelining him for weeks. The Pittsburgh Steelers, always a threat to make a deep run in the postseason, just lost their Lombardi-winning leader Ben Rothlesberger. The Jets, Colts, Jaguars and Dolphins are all looking to rebound from unexpected departures. With so much turmoil in the NFL, and teams not ready to abandon what they hope will be a magical season, why will no one take a chance on former San Francisco quarterback and Super Bowl runner-up Colin Kaepernick? 

Unfortunately for Kaepernick, the answer is simple: He’s just not worth the trouble. Now don’t get me wrong, he absolutely deserves to be in the league. Is he almost certainly being blackballed by the league and team owners? No doubt. 

The stats don’t lie, Kaepernick has had season after season of statistics that resemble most starters in the NFL now. In ​58 total games as a starter​, he threw 72 touchdowns accompanied by 1,278 passing yards. He has compiled 2,300 rushing, and is a dual threat with the ability to put up points, which is what caused his star to rise in 2012. With ten quarterbacks who are only 1–3 years into the NFL set to take center stage this weekend, the disconnect between league execs, the players and the fans is amplified.

Never shy to speak his mind, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith said it perfectly, “He hasn’t broken any bylaws or rules.” Yet he remains on the outside looking in. “It’s time for both parties to get past it.” What did Kaepernick do that was so horrible for the league and those who represent it? He took a stand, or in his case a knee, against police brutality and racial profiling of men and women of color. He took a risk, made a point that needed to be made and kneeled during our country’s national anthem, which some claim was an action disrespecting the living and fallen members of our military. Seems pretty basic, you kneel against your boss’ wishes, you are fined and lose some fans who don’t agree with your actions. However, to be banned for life, when players committing far more serious crimes get to suit up each year, does not seem justified.

For Kaepernick, the situation is much deeper, he accidentally stumbled into the worst possible situation for a player, he threatened the deep pockets of the league. Not all viewers and advertisers see the world as he does, and that endangered the league’s income opportunities. Although the ​NFL employs more than 70 percent African-Americans, ​it remains a predominantly white-operated business behind closed doors. Kaepernick questioned a broken system and was punished for it. The league will never be willing to jeopardize its profits. As much as the public is led to believe winning is the ultimate aspect of sports, I argue money rules all. The NFL will continue to do their best to keep this troublemaker out of sight so he remains out of mind from the fan base. 

If teams are too afraid to pick up a player who checks all the boxes of what is valued in a leader of a franchise, in the most coveted position of quarterback, then what shot does Kaepernick really have?