After spending half the season perpetrating an anti-American protest against the national anthem, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced his free agency. But, with teams snapping up players, Kaepernick has thus far gone ignored by the NFL. Now, sports writer Mike Freeman, searching for a reason for the player’s fall, ultimately decided that Kaepernick is being punished for “the crime of speaking his mind.”
For BleacherReport.com, Mike Freeman seems gobsmacked that no team has come forward to offer the 49ers second-string quarterback a new birth.
With his analysis, Freeman seems to blame the country and the NFL for being racist for not allowing Kaepernick to have unlimited success and untold accolades. Freeman also proclaims that Kaepernick is being punished for “the crime of speaking his mind.”
The San Francisco quarterback became the talk of the league this season with his anti-American protests by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem at the start of each game. But, just as Kaepernick declared his free agency he also announced the abrupt end of his refusal to stand for the anthem. With the league’s free agents signing to teams at a quickening pace, Kaepernick has thus far gone unsigned.
Kaepernick, once considered an up and coming player with a bright future, helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 only a year after he went pro, and then led the team to an NFC Championship the following year. Since then his playing has declined.
After several seasons of lackluster play, rumors circled that the 49ers would trade him ahead of the 2016/2017 season. Freeman even notes that some football analysts feel Kaepernick has lost a step, saying, “some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play. They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.”
But Freeman goes on to claim that Kaepernick has become toxic mostly because of his anti-American protests:
Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.
Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.
One executive even reportedly told Freeman that Kaepernick is “an embarrassment to football.”
Freeman does admit that teams may just be waiting for the most advantageous time to bid for Colin’s services. But, he thinks that what is happening to Kaepernick is “highly unusual.” It all adds up to little interest in the player, “and that’s putting it kindly” Freeman writes.
Freeman does add a long list of reasons people have criticized Kaepernick for his play, reasons that have nothing to do with his anti-American protests.
The writer says that some criticize Kaepernick’s throwing accuracy, others think he isn’t much of a team player because he is a moody loner, and still others say he seems out of his depth when asked to learn new schemes.
Despite all the complaints about Kaepernick’s play and prickly personality, Freeman finds his lack of free agency opportunity shocking. Freeman writes:
Still, it’s hard to emphasize how unusual Kaepernick’s current situation is. If a Super Bowl quarterback can walk and chew bubble gum simultaneously, he gets opportunities. Those opportunities usually arrive until that player is totally and completely done. That’s not the case with Kaepernick.
So, why is Kaepernick being left behind? It’s all because everyone is punishing him for “the crime of speaking his mind,” Freeman thinks.
Kaepernick’s new agents appear to have foreseen all of this, which is why it wasn’t surprising when sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Kaepernick would start standing for the anthem.
Now, he sits. Waiting and waiting. A still-talented player whose political statement may have cost him his NFL career.
With this, Freeman proves that, like many, he misunderstands freedom of speech. It is absolutely correct that Kaepernick has the right to say America has never been great, to slam our soldiers, the police, and other first responders, to tout Black Lives Matter and the like. But, it is the fans’ corresponding right to decide they don’t like him when he expresses those ideas.
It is also highly logical for teams assessing Kaepernick’s free agency to decide they don’t want to bring his controversial views into their locker rooms and to assault their fans with his protests. Kaepernick has a right to speak out, but he doesn’t have a right to expect no repercussions from that speech.
Consider the most perfect example of cause and effect concerning the topic of free speech, when country band the Dixie Chicks went on tirades overseas against the United States in the early 2000s Then, here at home they pretty much lost their fan base because of their anti-America outbursts.
Sure, the Dixie Chicks had a right to mouth off against the U.S.A. and no one said they didn’t have that right. But, fans also had the corresponding right to stop patronizing their musical product, and it wasn’t long before their musical career went from chart topping hits to invisible on the music scene.
The reaction to Kaepernick, who said even worse things about the U.S. than the Dixie Chicks ever did, is entirely similar.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.