Why the Kaepernick Saga Matters to Me and the Niners


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Wow, this Kaepernick thing really has some legs! Fortunately, most of “hot takie” garbage has simmered down a little bit, but this one isn’t going away any time soon. I’ll save the suspense, I couldn’t disagree more with Kaepernick’s actions, and the aftermath has fueled some burning concerns. A complete character assassination of the guy would be as immature and irresponsible. I don’t know the guy, his true feelings, or intent. If you know me, some of the reasons I disagree might be predictable, but I’ll leave that commentary for people much smarter and much closer to the issue. 1)Might I suggest epitome of character in the NFL, Ben Watson, check his post on September 5 Rather, I’d like to dive into some of the less political concerns from the Niners’ perspective and some thoughts it brought up as a dad.

Why it matters in football and the Niners

It's tough be a leader from back there.

It’s tough be a leader from back there.

The 49ers, as an organization, have done a pretty respectable job dealing with this from a PR perspective. They’ve said all the right things and deflected the pressure to pick sides. I’m sure they wanted a little more out of their $114M quarterback when it comes to on-the-field matters, but his demise has certainly made this ordeal a little easier to manage. But, he’s still on the roster, and he’s an injury or Jake Delhomme-esque performance from having his number called. While, typically, NFL teams don’t pay their QBs for much beyond their performance, there are few things they expect.

This isn’t groundbreaking sport psychology, but as an athlete, there is something a lot bigger than any single person going on between the sidelines. Beyond that, spend five minutes in a locker room or at a practice. You’re going to find a lot of people working towards where the exact same clothes (uniforms), buying in to ideas and habits, with a common goal. There’s quirky guys. Guys who march to different drum beat, but uncoachable or selfish players are a cancer. Even transendent talents get shipped out of town. 2)I’m sure this has nothing to do with why the Browns can;t win.

Selfishly foregoing an opportunity to stand with teammates in the pre-game is a blatant disregard for the unity required to build/maintain chemistry and trust. Neglecting the team’s needs in order to send a personal message is not a trait you want in your team’s field general. Quarterbacks MUST be leaders in the locker room and in the huddle. So now, this guy the Niners have asked to lead the offense, has backed his teammates into a corner. Depending on his their perspective, they are faced with quite a few dilemmas:

  1. Forget being patriotic, can they follow a guy so willing to show disrespect to such an important symbol of our nation?
  2. If they agree with his concerns of oppression, if they still decide to stand and honor our flag and country, does that mean they are hurting progress or taking a stand against the cause?
  3. Guys are handed the misfortune of constantly answering non-football questions about their backup quarterback. Players looooove doing this. (See: Tim Tebow)
  4. Any number of other issues. Each having nothing to do with 3rd and 4 on the opponents 37 yard-line.

Assuming he gets the chance to take few snaps this season, it’s going to be tough for Kaep to lead his team into battle on Sunday, especially when they are on the road and the entire home crowd is singing the National Anthem louder than they ever have before…all in an effort to drown out the Colin’s selfish conversation. Now, he’s effectively delivered an advantage to the opponent, pitted his teammates against him, and in an ironic twist, placed a negative tone on the very thing he claims to support.

So yea, it matters quite a bit to the Niners. Colin took a moment carved out of the pre-game rituals and made it about him. It doesn’t matter how noble you believe his cause to be, players are going to have very little interest getting behind an immature quarterback who is incapable of seeing or caring about how is actions affect the team. Maturity would have likely brought foresight and and sought council before driving his stake into the ground.

Why it matters to me…

The past few months has been pretty fruitful when it comes to being provided thought-provoking teaching opportunities for me and my kids. The Kaepernick chaos is no exception and it got me thinking what my response would have been if it wasn’t Kaepernick, but rather, a player from a team my kids root for or one of their favorite players.

trout-smilingMy son loves Mike Trout. By all accounts Mike Trout seems like a good guy and a good teammate. I feel comfortable with him as the chosen Fathead on my son’s wall. That said, I don’t know the kid. I don’t know much about his morale-compass, his family, his childhood, or basically anything beyond what he does on the field.

Mike Trout could have just as easily been the guy who decided to use disrespect as a platform to bring attention to a movement. Regardless of whether I agreed or disagreed with his reasoning, Trout’s actions would definitely prompt a response from me. It would likely start with a conversation with my boys, reemphasizing the importance of patriotism and further explaining freedom and its symbols. I would dig deeper on conversations we have already begun to have about some of the issues going on in our country and things that need our prayer and action. Finally, I’d explain what Mike Trout did and why I disapprove.

I’d likely explain how he has, even if Mike Trout didn’t mean to, disrespected the people that keep us safe from people who want to hurt us and the people in our neighborhood who look after us. I’d also explain how he alienated his teammates and what it would have looked like it Trout was a true leader. Then, ask the boys if they wanted to do some web surfing to find a new Fathead because there is about to be a big blank space on the wall.

I feel pretty comfortable with the idea that I won’t be letting professional athletes raise my kids. I can screw them up enough on my own. But using the Flag for selfish desires and having a complete lack of understanding when it comes to how your actions impact others are just a couple things I won’t I’m not going to dismiss.

Bottomline

I don’t hate Colin Kaepernick. His actions are deplorable, immature, and applied with backwards logic, but I don’t hate him, or even dislike him. Rather, I am appreciative for the teaching moment he’s delivered me as a father and the thoughts he’s provoked. I’ve had to dig deep to figure out what it means to see the Colors disrespected in that way, even if that wasn’t the intent. Unfortunately, Kaep’s spot the bench won’t be empty anytime soon, so we won’t get to see the toll it takes on leading a team. It’s interesting to imagine if it Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers…or Mike Trout.

Political Disclaimer:

Literally no one is refuting Kaepernick’s, or anyone else’s, right to do what he’s doing. Fortunately, that piece of rhetoric seems to have slowed down a little bit, but it always ends up the least interesting waste of time when this sort of stuff comes up. Hoping most can agree, for better or worse, the 1st Amendment is a prominent attribute to making our country better than any other.3)If you catch yourself saying, “Yea, and it’s also my right to disagree and share my opinion about it.” Stop. Breathe. Press on. You sound like an idiot, your message is being received that way, and your self-righteous tone has never, in the history of time, been helpful. Anyone that “invokes” their 1st Amendment rights lacks understanding. Second, to Kaepernick’s credit, this maneuver seems to have added fuel to a conversation, in a way he probably never could have imagined. Whether or not it has actually helped his “cause” is up for debate, but Fortune 500 companies would would pay a pretty penny for a thimble of this type of response through their marketing efforts.

Additionally, there are ton of factors swirling around this topic. For example, Kaepernick jersey sales continue to climb, and he has stated he will donate the proceeds to communities. Credit is due for seeing beyond himself, but seeing as how “community” has no specific meaning here, it appears he’s incapable of intelligently directing his thoughts. It seems indicative of his immaturity and lack of knowledge on the situation. I also mentioned his potentially influential girlfriend. Feel free to take a look at her track record. Perhaps, how he arrived at his decision to sit isn’t all that important, but it’s something to think about before hitching you trailer to the Kaepernick Convoy of Change.

I fully acknowledge the problems we’ve been facing as a nation. I will say simply, I love my black brothers, I love my law enforcement brothers, and I love my brothers and sisters in camouflage. I won’t give credit or place blame anywhere, but I will keep praying we can continue to work together to move the conversation forward.

Lastly, I’m an unashamed Tim Tebow apologist. I’ve thought about how his actions would fit into all this and I’m ready to go to bat if you feel this opinion is hypocritical.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Might I suggest epitome of character in the NFL, Ben Watson, check his post on September 5
2. I’m sure this has nothing to do with why the Browns can;t win.
3. If you catch yourself saying, “Yea, and it’s also my right to disagree and share my opinion about it.” Stop. Breathe. Press on. You sound like an idiot, your message is being received that way, and your self-righteous tone has never, in the history of time, been helpful. Anyone that “invokes” their 1st Amendment rights lacks understanding.

About Brent Nichols

My blogging is, no doubt, all over the map, but hope you’ll find something just right for you. Currently living in the D.C.-metro area in Northern Virginia. You know what? I think I kinda like it out here.

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