It stands to reason that the NFL isn’t all that excited about a rally in support of free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking place later this month outside its headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.
If so, it shouldn’t blame Kaepernick. It should direct all complaints to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, who all but begged for such events when he noted last week that one of the factors in the team’s consideration of signing Kaepernick was fan opinion.
“We’re very sensitive to it,” Bisciotti said at a Ravens fan event. “We’re monitoring it and we’re still, as [general manager Ozzie Newsome] says, ‘We’re scrimmaging it.’ We’re trying to figure out what’s the right tact.
“Pray for us.”
You asked for fan opinion, well, here’s some fan opinion. Maybe the rally should begin with a prayer for the Ravens.
No one knows how big the event will be. It’s clearly hastily arranged – the online advertisement promoting it was published Tuesday morning and actually misspells Kaepernick’s name (they forgot an “e” and spelled it “Kapernick”).
Still, Spike Lee has already tweeted his support. Five different civil rights organizations have their logos on the online ad. The media has jumped on the story. There will certainly be cameras, lots and lots of cameras. Footage of people jamming up a New York sidewalk, shouting up at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, always makes for good television. Opinions won’t be hard to monitor.
In terms of getting Kaepernick a quarterbacking job in the NFL, this rally is likely to be counterproductive. Ambiguous and so-called “distractions” are a common card played against Kaepernick (and other players in various situations) by NFL teams. And it is true. Control-freak NFL coaches tend to hate distractions, big or small. Park Avenue rallies certainly qualify as fairly big.
It’s also true they will overlook just about anything if the player is a star, which Kaepernick no longer is. Bisciotti, for example, never felt the need to monitor much of anything when it came to linebacker Ray Lewis, despite the fact he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice in a double homicide.
Lewis was the franchise’s greatest player and the key to two Super Bowl titles. The fans would have voted overwhelmingly for him anyway. They just want to win. That’s how the world works – in football and out.
Kaepernick understands that. He knows he is out of football now, at least in part (or perhaps exclusively), because he chose to first sit, and later take a knee, during the national anthem when he played for San Francisco last year. Kaepernick said he was highlighting the problem of police brutality against minorities. He has spoken out and used social media to further that message, drawing both significant praise and significant scorn in the process.
Now no team wants him in their locker room.
Every job search, in pretty much every situation, is based on how a candidate’s perceived positives compare to his or her perceived negatives. It’s a subjective, sliding scale that can be infuriating, but teams can always lean back on it.
Kaepernick isn’t the same quarterback who led the Niners to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. He is better than a lot of guys in camps right now though.
In an effort to lower his perceived negatives, Kaepernick has, according to ESPN, agreed to stand for the anthem this year. He has also remained almost silent in public during his search for a job. He has worked back channels aggressively, reportedly stayed prepared and made himself available to discuss any concerns with interested teams. That includes, according to Bisciotti, a talk with the Ravens.
Thus far, it hasn’t been enough. Kaepernick will likely have to wait for additional injuries of current quarterbacks to improve his perceived positives (he’s better than any other available quarterback) to a desperate team. Fair or not, that’s the deal. Kaepernick had to know the risk he took in speaking out about anything other than football last year.
At this late stage, Kaepernick fans are trying a new tact, namely making some noise in front of NFL headquarters. This may stem from a theory of league-wide collusion against Kaepernick, but collusion is always tough to prove. Are the quarterback-rich New England Patriots, for example, really involved in a conspiracy to not sign Kaepernick because of his anthem protest, or do they just have an enviable quarterback depth chart of Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett?
That doesn’t quell the frustration of Kaepernick supporters, especially when an NFL owner is down in Baltimore saying he is “monitoring” and “scrimmaging” fan interests.
Up in New York, on Aug. 23, outside Goodell’s office, people will attempt to make their voices heard, make themselves monitor-able, if you will.
It’s everything Biscotti asked for, and no matter what you think of Colin Kaepernick, that’s a good thing. In this classically American controversy, an old-fashioned street rally is, and always will be, the American way.
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