I understand that at no point during or after his NFL career was Brett Favre considered an intellect. Were I a presidential candidate and the former Green Bay Packers quarterback came to me and asked me how he could help, provided I didn’t have to win Wisconsin, I’d tell him to start campaigning with the other guy — and giving long, long speeches.
Byron “Whizzer” White this is not.
Likewise, I hold no personal animus against Colin Kaepernick. I don’t agree with his take on America, I don’t support kneeling during the national anthem and, even despite the fact there are plenty of Americans who disagree, I don’t think that’s why he’s not in the NFL right now.
If a team wants to sign him, go for it. I don’t watch preseason games anyhow, and — given the fact “he has a high-end backup skill set,” a CBS Sports scouting report says — it’s unlikely we’d see him on the playing field that often.
However, it’s not unfair to take umbrage when the former non-scholar Favre decides to call the latter anthem-kneeler Kaepernick a “hero” on the level of Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals player who left the NFL to become an Army Ranger after 9/11 and was killed in Afghanistan.
“I can only think of right off the top of my head, Pat Tillman is another guy that did something similar,” Favre said during an interview last week with TMZ Sports, when asked about comparisons between Kaepernick and Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali.
“And, we regard him as a hero. So, I’d assume that hero status will be stamped with Kaepernick as well.”
“It’s not easy for a guy his age — black or white, Hispanic, whatever — to stop something that you’ve always dreamed of doing, and put it on hold, maybe forever, for something that you believe in,” Favre said.
Earlier in the interview, Favre also said he believes Kaepernick deserves another chance.
“I thought he was a dynamic player when he was playing in his prime,” Favre said. “He’s still young and hasn’t been hit in several years, so there’s no reason to think that he’s lost that much of a step.”
Kaepernick is likely to get a chance at making an NFL team, if just because the distraction factor if he isn’t signed by a team now far outweighs the distraction of signing him.
That doesn’t necessarily make him any good, considering he’s a quarterback who wasn’t spectacular in his last few seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and hasn’t played in three years, but Kaepernick’s fans wouldn’t be able to complain he’s not going to get a shot.
As for being a hero on the level of Tillman? Quoth Jeannie Bueller, dry that one out and you could fertilize the lawn.
Just in case you’ve forgotten: Tillman, a standout with Arizona State and the Arizona Cardinals, joined the U.S. Army in the spring of 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks and was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army Rangers. On April 22, 2004, his unit was ambushed and Tillman was killed by friendly fire.
There are several differences between Tillman and Kaepernick you may be able to spot.
Tillman gave up a multi-million dollar contract to serve his country after it was attacked.
In the midst of a multi-million dollar contract, Kaepernick began protesting that country, its anthem and its flag because he claimed it was iniquitous for a variety of reasons, most of them nebulous.
Tillman died a martyr, having been killed in an ambush fighting America’s enemies.
Kaepernick is considered a “martyr” because no team has signed him since the season when he began kneeling during the national anthem back 2016. He was never benched for protesting the anthem, mind you, and despite the leaky-ship relationship modern professional sports organizations have with the media, no one has yet come up with solid evidence that collusion among NFL team owners kept Kaepernick from playing professional football.
After leaving the NFL to fight for his country, Tillman never had a chance to return to professional football.
Kaepernick’s reported salary demands — including $20 million a year from startup second-tier leagues like the Alliance of American Football and the XFL, where players were making very low six figures at most — meant he probably ended up precluding those chances from happening.
I’m sure Favre thought he was saying something that was in the spirit of the country’s current political moment — and it probably is. It’ll certainly inspire headlines and tweets like this one:
A lot of these right-wingers getting mad at Brett Favre for comparing Colin Kaepernick to Pat Tillman conveniently forget that Tillman was killed by friendly fire and not by “the enemy”; along with having similar politics to Kaepernick. Favre’s assessment is correct.
— Shamma Casson (@CassonMaria) June 21, 2020
However, Favre’s statement is also demonstrably false — unless you somehow believe laying your life for your country is morally equivalent to kneeling for the national anthem and getting a huge Nike deal that allows you to cancel Betsy Ross American flag sneakers because the flag has alleged ties to white supremacy or something. (Emphasis, as always, on the “or something.”)
Pat Tillman didn’t just give up his dream job to fight for the same country Kaepernick openly despises.
He gave up his life.
Even if you shrug at the idea of patriotism and roll your eyes at respect for the flag or the anthem, you have to consider this: Dying for a cause you believe in is far more heroic than moderately discomfiting your career goals while reaping millions of dollars and media acclaim for a cause you believe in.
Favre’s statement is proof that this isn’t a man given to deep (or any) contemplation on matters that don’t involve the playbook or reading opposing defenses.
My guess is that even some of Kaepernick’s supporters will be embarrassed for Favre.
If the former Green Bay quarterback can’t think of anyone to compare Kaepernick with besides Tillman, it’s more proof this isn’t a man whose powers of thought can be trusted.
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