Ever since the death of George Floyd on May 25, there have been many conversations saying former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick should now be allowed back into the NFL. There are so many things wrong with that topic. While Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national them in 2016 may have been bothersome to some or heroic to others, he brought attention to racial injustice. If he was shunned by the league because of his beliefs, that’s wrong. If he’s just given a spot on an NFL team now as an image boost, that’s also wrong. Will he eventually make a return to the league?
Was Kaepernick lackballed or was it poor production?
Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the preseason in 2016 when he was the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He was protesting the social injustice and police brutality that was taking place in the country. During the time he was kneeling, much of the talk about the NFL centered around his kneeling with many outraged he wouldn’t stand for the anthem. Others applauded his stance.
During that 2016 season, Kaepernick also went 1-10 as a starter for the 49ers, who finished the season 2-14. The season before that, Kaepernick started eight games for the 49ers and went 2-6 before he was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Statistically, it was Kaepernick’s worst season as he threw six touchdowns and five interceptions in nine games he played. Kaepernick’s lone winning season as the full-time starter came in 2013 when he went 12-4. He was dominant and torched teams with his legs, rushing for 524 yards and four touchdowns. His first season, in 2012, he filled in for an injured Alex Smith and guided the 49ers to a berth in the Super Bowl.
After that 2016 season, Kaepernick never played in the NFL again. The belief is he was blackballed from the league for taking his stance against social injustice. He never got a tryout and others point to his steady decline in play, going 3-16 in his final two seasons as a starting quarterback.
Players have demanded the NFL get Kaepernick back in the league
Like Colin Kaepernick‘s kneeling did, George Floyd’s death brought racial inequality to the forefront. With many protests taking part throughout the world, the topic has taken center stage. Floyd’s death also triggered Kaepernick’s fight for equality. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly stated the league was wrong for the way it handled the kneeling during the 2016 season.
Many players have since demanded the NFL give Kaepernick his job back. Carlos Hyde, a former teammate of Kaepernick’s in San Francisco, said Goodell’s apology was not enough. Hyde said the only way he feels the NFL will be taken seriously on racial issues would be by bringing Kaepernick back into the league. “I think the NFL could start by bringing Kaep back,” Hyde said. “I think if they sign Kaep back, that would really show that they are trying to move in a different direction.”
Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens also appears to believe the NFL isn’t sincere with its apology. Owens helped organize a march for Kaepernick. Owens tweeted, “The @NFL & Roger Goodell owes @Kaepernick7 an apology along with his job back which is long OVERDUE. This march is about bringing global awareness to the systemic racism that the NFL & @nflcommish still displays toward Kap!”
How will Kaepernick be judged if he’s signed?
Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL in four years and it’s clear his play was on the decline since debuting in 2012. He deserves the chance to work out for any team, but should not be handed anything. Current and former players demanding he is on a roster this season is not only crazy but unfair to both the league and Kaepernick.
Teams may sign him because they feel he can help them. Others may take a look at him to appease others. For a guy who hasn’t played competitive football at a high level in four years, it can’t be expected he will flourish during his workout and be the same guy he was seven or eight years ago.
What if he’s signed by a team and then waived before the season starts? Will that be enough to satisfy Carlos Hyde, Terrell Owens, and the many others telling the NFL to take him back? How much of an uproar will there be if he is released? Unless he’s starting in the NFL, it likely won’t be enough to satisfy some of these players and that’s unfair to everyone involved.