The sports media has spent most of the offseason wondering why Colin Kaepernick hasn’t yet signed with a team. Well, according to a couple prominent sports writers, the answer is simple: no NFL team has called him.
According to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News:
A source tells me that Kaepernick to this point has had no serious talks with any team about a contract and has had no meetings, which means he has not demanded a starting role or a $10M salary or a $5M salary or any of the other things circulating among the NFL gossip mill recently.
There is zero evidence that any team has come anywhere close to signing Kaepernick, and a source close to Kaepernick told me yesterday that they have not discussed even general money terms with anybody this offseason.
And Kaepernick is not demanding a guaranteed starting role. How could he if he hasn’t had a single serious conversation with a team?
I don’t know if Kaepernick would accept a bare minimum contract like Blaine Gabbert (!!! More on Gabbert in a bit), who just reportedly signed with Arizona to be the second- or third-string QB behind Carson Palmer, but I do know, from the same source, that not a single team has asked if he would accept it.
So how could Kaepernick be demanding anything of anybody? To thin air? It doesn’t make sense, unless we’re talking Fake Information World.
A black ball while ferociously saying it’s not a black ball.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo! agrees with Kawakami, specifically in regard to the reports that Kaepernick had asked for far too much money, saying, “And thus far, not one NFL source has been able to confirm to Yahoo Sports any number that Kaepernick is looking for in terms of contract price or even structure. In turn, not even one NFL team is confirmed to have had any financial talks with Kaepernick. By all accounts, the financial barrier to Kaepernick landing with a team appears to be bogus at this stage.”
So, what does all this mean?
If you believe the reporting, it means no one has called Kaepernick about a job. Hence, all the theories about why the former 49er remains unsigned, such as how he’s not working out anymore, how he’s asking for too much money, and how he’s going to be a lifelong protester. These theories have no merit, because no one has picked up the phone and even broached the subject of signing him.
This lack of contact with Kaepernick, especially in light of Blaine Gabbert signing with Arizona, and the retirements of Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, constitutes blackballing in the eyes of the media.
Kaepernick made a conscious decision to perform an immensely unpopular act, repeatedly, on national television throughout the course of an NFL season. Despite the anger he sparked in millions, and the advice he received from many in the industry, he continued to do this while proudly claiming to stand for what he believed.
That’s his right.
It’s also the right of 32 NFL owners to take a look at that clown show and say no thanks. One person’s freedom of speech is not another person’s muzzle. The freedom to react with speech, ambivalence, or the decision not to hire someone is an inherent, and essential, corollary to the freedom of speech.
If not, then the freedom to speak is nothing more than a tyranny of what the cultural establishment deems politically correct and proper. No Boston dock worker or Virginia farm boy would have ever picked up a musket to fight for that.
All that being said, Colin Kaepernick isn’t truly being blackballed. At least not yet.
Colin Kaepernick threw four touchdowns for every interception last year, on a team in complete disarray, with no receivers and a suspect offensive line. He’s not the quarterback he was three years ago, but he’s absolutely good enough to be in the NFL.
So, why isn’t he in the NFL?
Simple: it’s May, it’s the offseason. The draft is over. Free agency? Over. Baseball is less than 40 games in, and the NBA is currently mired in the most boring postseason in the history of postseasons. If an NFL team signed Kaepernick tomorrow, they would absorb the full brunt of media coverage and scrutiny for the better part of the next three months. Most of that time, with no other sport, or major sports story to distract from it.
That’s not blackballing, that’s strategy.
No, the real test of whether or not Kaepernick has been blackballed won’t happen in May, it’ll happen in November. It’ll happen when the starting quarterback for a playoff contending team with no viable backup gets injured. Kaepernick has played well enough to land on the very short list of available quarterbacks to receive a phone call in that situation.
It’s also a heck of a lot easier to explain making the Kaepernick call at that time. In the heat of the playoff chase, no other viable alternatives, desperate times, desperate measures. With all the distractions of an NFL season in mid-to-late season form.
If that situation, or some other similar manifestation of that situation, unfolds, without Colin Kaepernick getting an offer from an NFL team then a strong case could be made that Kaepernick was indeed blackballed by the NFL.
But, you still shouldn’t care, because that’s their right, and that’s what he deserves.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn