Arguably the biggest event of the 2016 NFL season wasn’t Brady’s destructive comeback, the unfortunate Browns situation, or even anything that had to do with the game of football. What distracted so much attention – and potentially turned several thousands of sports fans away from watching football or football news – was Colin Kaepernick’s protests.
Even though I fundamentally disagree with the way he went about doing it, I had some respect for Kaepernick in that he went to extreme circumstances to raise awareness for a cause bigger than himself, kneeling before the national anthem before every game. There were even other notable athletes and celebrities that supported him in these tense times.
But all of that landed with a resounding thud when he refused to vote.
Let’s be clear: Americans have the right, not the obligation to vote. We are as required to go to the polls and cast a ballot as much as we’re supposed to buy handguns. If you don’t vote, I get that. But I cannot respect making such a big national fuss and embody a civil rights cause, and then noting acting on your right to try to change the country.
A guy who came so close to a Super Bowl victory is going to go down in history as both a washed-up quarterback and a fizzled-out civil rights activist.
— Ryan Bentley (@bentley2gs) November 10, 2016
Steven A. Smith, along with dozens of other people, had some pretty choice words for the 49ers QB:
“As far as I am concerned, Colin Kaepernick is absolutely irrelevant,” Smith said.
“I don’t want to see him again; I don’t want to hear from him again; I don’t wanna hear a damn word about anything he has to say about our nation — the issues that we have, racial injustices, needing change, etcetera, etcetera. He comes across as a flaming hypocrite.”
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 9, 2016
Smith hit the nail on the head. Kaep is now irrelevant and he is the curator of his own demise. As long as he is fighting an uphill battle on the football field, with the press, and with the 49ers organization, I don’t see much opportunity for him in the future. There are high-quality quarterbacks being churned out in the NCAA every year and even more in development leagues and reserves hungry for their shot.
The only thing Colin Kaepernick can do to redeem himself is to stop talking politics and go undefeated for the rest of the season. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially since the 49ers are almost as bad as the Browns and are losing more and more of their fanbase – thanks to Kaep.
Smith went on to say: “I would personally make a request to the media in this nation. Wherever he is, if he ain’t on that football field trying to throw another damn incomplete pass, do me a favor and make sure of one thing: take the camera away from him. It means nothing!”
Again, Steven A. dishing out that heat. Kaepernick meant well, but was unfortunately used as a media puppet for a political narrative that went far beyond football.
With the elections over, the media’s use for Kaepernick was dicey as best, and his refusal to vote provides any Kaepernick critic with enough ammunition to shut down any coherent media spin on this.
Circling back to Kaepernick as a guy, though, we need to be human about this. This is just not his year. Maybe all the media pressure and going 1-7 with the 49ers is getting to him.
I’m not one to kick a man when he’s down. At the end of the day he’s just as human as anyone else. His solo protest movement, however, is no more.