Buffalo Roughs Up Colin Kaepernick—And Then the Bills Do

Colin Kaepernick
The Associated Press

Colin Kaepernick, welcome to Buffalo. And welcome to the NFL.

Kaepernick’s welcome back to the NFL contained numerous “welcome to the NFL” moments. He completed just 13 of 29 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown on Sunday in his first start of the season. Rex Ryan’s defense sacked him three times. The Bills stampeded the 49ers 45-16. But quarterback suffered rougher treatment in the stands and in the parking lot than he did on the field.

Tailgaters set up a Kaepernick tackling dummy for pregame catharsis. Enterprising gentlemen peddled shirts bearing the quarterback’s image that told him to “Shut Up and Stand” and labeled him as a “Notorious Disgrace to America.” Inside New Era Stadium, spontaneous “USA!” chants erupted before “The Star Spangled Banner.”

After hearing the boos, Kaepernick heard the national anthem. Again, he kneeled, along with teammates Eli Harold and Eric Reid. An in-uniform cop conspicuously stood behind them and saluted the flag. You’re not in Kansas San Francisco anymore.

After the beatdown, Kaepernick gladly shifted focus to the kneeldown.

“I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality that this country says it stands for,” Kaepernick told reporters after the game. “To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards that it says it lives by. That’s something that needs to be addressed.”

So does a 45 percent completion percentage. But who has time for such plebeian matters when you’re saving the world — or at least its most reprobate nation?

William F. Buckley famously said he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by Harvard’s faculty. The sights on Sunday suggest that sensible people would rather be governed by the 80,000 inebriated rowdies in the House That Ralph Wilson Built than by the pseudo-intellectual athlete earning more than a million dollars for each completed pass this season. At least those in the parking lot living hard on the weekend earn an honest living during the week. And they don’t play preacher without a pulpit on Sunday, either.

You can see Canada from Buffalo. But you see America in Buffalo.