It’s truly difficult, if not impossible, to think of the last time an unemployed NFL player garnered as much hand-wringing and as many think pieces as free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Unfortunately for the NFL, just about any stance, good or bad, on Kaepernick reflects poorly on the league.
There are those who feel that the NFL royally messed up by not nipping Kaepernick’s inaugural anthem protests in the bud. The movement of protesting the national anthem spread rapidly after Kaepernick started doing it in 2016.
There are others who feel that the NFL is “blackballing” him. That group of Kaepernick supporters believes racism and a fear of his “mission” are what’s really keeping him out of the league.
According to NFL legend Jim Brown, Kaepernick’s supporters are only half-correct — and they’re not going to like why.
Brown appeared on “The Rich Eisen Show” to discuss the conversations he’s recently had with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pertaining to players kneeling and protesting during the national anthem. Unsurprisingly, the topic of conversation inevitably moved on to Kaepernick at one point.
. @JimBrownNFL32 told us he met with @nflcommish today to talk about player protests moving forward, which prompted @richeisen to ask the #Browns legend if he thought @Kaepernick7 should have a job in the #NFL: pic.twitter.com/wxBrTAP5ha
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) April 27, 2018
“There were a lot of topics and things. Topics that I really addressed to him is dealing with those individuals that can make the decision for themselves, but the league now is trying to, more or less, monitor them,” Brown began.
“I was trying to deal with the kneeling rule,” he explained, adding that he didn’t get an answer.
That being said, Brown made his stance on national anthem kneeling vividly clear.
“I think that we do the fans an injustice when we don’t stand up for the national anthem or the flag. I’ve been totally against [the anthem protests],” Brown said.
A big point that Brown made was that he felt more of an onus should be put on teammates to discourage anthem kneeling. Brown said that despite the number of anthem protesters that are in the league, they are still an overwhelming minority of active NFL players.
“Do you think Kaepernick should have a job in the NFL?” asked Eisen.
“I think everyone should have a job that qualifies. But I think that there is a thing called entrepreneurship, and ownership, and investing in your business,” Brown said, before launching into what he “really thinks.”
“I think that every player should understand how privileged he is to be able to have a voice and notoriety and to make all that kind of money,” the Hall of Famer said. He again cited the responsibility of an anthem protester to talk to his team and franchise so the team could present a unified voice, as opposed to seeing a group of individuals with individual desires.
“Everyone should have the opportunity that has the ability,” Brown said, finally addressing Kaepernick. “His ability is questioned to a certain degree.”
But even assuming Kaepernick was more than just an adequate mid-tier backup quarterback, Brown finally dropped the hammer on the real reason he wouldn’t sign Kaepernick.
“But, if I was the general manager, I would not want to take [Kaepernick] on because I would not know what he’s going to do, and I would always want to know what my players are going to do and they would come to me first and we would discuss it,” he said.
“My problem with [Kaepernick] is that he has a right to express himself, but he should not put himself out there as [an individual],” Brown said.
So there it is. According to one of the greatest NFL running backs of all time, there is, in fact, a fear preventing NFL front offices from hiring Kaepernick. But those front offices aren’t afraid of some “revolution.” They’re afraid of what’s unknown versus known when it comes to Kaepernick.
Everyone knows what Kaepernick can provide as a quarterback. He can provide a dash of playmaking and he has a fairly strong arm. But it’s the unknowns that are scaring teams off.
A quarterback needs to unify his team and lead a group that is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s no knowing if Kaepernick can offer that, especially if he insists on taking such an individual stance during the national anthem.
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