Earlier this week, Colin Kaepernick said he’s willing to take a backup role in the NFL if it gains him reentry into the league. But so far, it doesn’t appear any team wants to give the polarizing quarterback another chance.
In fact, some of Kaepernick’s staunchest supporters have urged the quarterback to just let go of the NFL. After all, it’s been six years since he last saw the field. And even then, the San Francisco 49ers had decided not to sign him again. Kaepernick started kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial injustice during the 2016 preseason.
First, here’s what Kaepernick said during the I AM ATHLETE podcast that aired Monday.
“Five years of training behind the scenes. You don’t do that if you don’t have a passion and you don’t believe you’re gonna find a way on that field.
“I know I have to find my way back in,” Colin Kaepernick said of the NFL. “So yeah, if I have to come in as a backup, that’s fine. But that’s not where I’m staying. And when I prove that I’m a starter, I want to be able to step on the field as such. I just need that opportunity to walk through the door.”
Kaepernick already has so many factors running against a comeback. He’s 34. The average age of an NFL player is 26. Obviously, he’s worked out and stayed in shape. But he hasn’t thrown a pass in a game since Christmas, 2016. It’s already difficult for a player to scrape off the competitive rust after missing a year of games. Six years seems highly improbable.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said he supported Kaepernick’s comeback dreams until 2019. That’s when the quarterback declined to work out for NFL teams because of a disagreement over a waiver.
“My brother, you ain’t played in five years,” Smith said of Kaepernick. “We don’t know what you can do, but we still believe in you. I believe Colin Kaepernick could be on an NFL team right now and help a team despite being gone for five years because I think he’s that gifted. That ain’t the point!”
Smith continued: “The point is coaches, players and executives all answer to owners … and they don’t want to touch you. And you knew that and the one in (in 2019), you refused to exploit.”
However, other fans wanted Kaepernick back in. One wrote: “A lot of people on TV are forgetting is that Colin Kaepernick should’ve NEVER been put out of the NFL. He did nothing wrong. Seahawks should seriously consider this man. We need him. Seriously, we need a quarterback….seriously.”
Another fan wrote: “You tell yourself whatever you need to. Colin Kaepernick is not playing football in the NFL because of Colin Kaepernick. There’s nothing to debate. He compared it to the likes of slavery. Why would he want to be enslaved? You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com compared Kaepernick’s situation to Tim Tebow’s. Jacksonville signed the former Florida Gator QB as a free agent last year. Tebow hadn’t played in years but was trying out as a tight end. Florio said fans wouldn’t accept it if either quarterback weren’t a starter.
“It’s one of the reasons why teams weren’t interested in Tim Tebow as a backup quarterback, frankly,” Florio wrote. “The Tebowmaniacs would have constantly jostled for Tebow to play. And Tebow would have quite possibly opted to aw-shucks his way through it, instead of making a clear and loud declaration that he’s the backup, and that the starter is the starter. In Kaepernick’s case, he’s calling his shot before he even gets one.”