Colin Kaepernick Lawsuit Cites ‘Advocacy for Equality and Social Justice,’ Not Poor Play, for NFL Exile

AP Photo Ted S. Warren
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Colin Kaepernick blames collusion for sitting on the couch rather than standing in cleats this season.

The former 49er makes a strong case—against himself and his agent. They colluded to get Kaepernick out of his contract.

Tony Bennett merely left his heart in San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick left $17 million there.

The federal lawsuit filed by attorney Mark Geragos in a California court alleges that the 32 NFL franchises “colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.” The litigation seeks an NFL arbitration hearing for the free agent.

Rather than suing the National Football League, the plaintiff should sue himself and double as the defendant. Kaepernick opted out of a $17 million salary in San Francisco. The lawsuit merely notes that the quarterback “became a free agent on or around March 3, 2017.” It neglects to say how he became a free agent. The 49ers did not cut him. The league did not suspend him. Colin Kaepernick willingly walked away.

Now he complains that he can’t walk back in on what he walked away from. Blame his poor decision-making as a businessman. Blame his deteriorating skills on the gridiron. Don’t blame the teams that refused to accede to ridiculous contract demands and second his unrealistic self-assessment.

Kaepernick won one of the eleven games he started in 2016. He completed 59.2 percent of his passes. He fumbled nine times. His 16-4 touchdown-to-interceptions ratio stands alone among his stats in looking pretty good. He isn’t his former self and he isn’t number one on any depth chart in the NFL.

His vegan diet meant coming into camp last season looking like Friday from Treasure Island. He seemed more interested in making political statements than playing football, wearing socks depicting policemen as pigs here, donning a shirt bearing Fidel Castro’s image there. Football, behind his hairdo, celebrity girlfriend, and random political mutterings, seemed to lack priority status.

Despite all this, the lawsuit holds: “It is no longer a statistical anomaly but instead a statistical impossibility that Mr. Kaepernick has not been employed or permitted to try out for any NFL team since the initiation of his free agency period.”

When you’re Muhammad Ali knocking out Sonny Liston and George Foreman, you can make wild statements and fans still love you. When you go 1-10 as a quarterback, you can’t. Ultimately, fans care about winning, which works as a get-of-jail-free card for everything. Nobody in the stadium cares about who you voted for or what socks you wear. They care about Ws and Ls. And Kaepernick delivered just one of the former to ten of the latter last season. That’s not a formula for NFL longevity, particularly when you reorient all of your teammates’ thoughts to something unrelated to football.

Mark Geragos characterizes his client as “eminently qualified.” To wear a sandwich board? To shout nursery-rhyme chants through a bullhorn? To join a teach-in?

Colin Kaepernick possesses better skills than a sizable number of NFL backups. But when you imagine yourself a starter and demand a starter’s paycheck, your suitors take a knee. This proves especially true when the quarterback under consideration ranks as—that most endangered species on a professional football field—a distraction (see, Tim Tebow).

When you make your statement on the sidelines rather than the field, do not feign surprise once you permanently watch the field from the sidelines.


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