Last year, playing for a bad San Francisco 49ers team, Colin Kaepernick had a quarterback rating of 90.7, completed 59.2 percent of his passes, and threw for 16 touchdown with only four interceptions. These numbers, other than the touchdown passes to interceptions ratio, aren’t outstanding. However, they suggest that Kaepernick is one of the 32 best quarterbacks in football and certainly one of the best 64.
Yet, as of today, none of the NFL’s 32 teams has a spot for Kaepernick, either as a starter or a backup. This almost certainly is due to the fact that he expressed anti-police and other hard-left political views, and refused to respect the National Anthem when it was played before his games. (Kaepernick now says he will stand for the Anthem.)
I strongly disagree with Kaepernick’s views and I’m offended by his failure to stand for the National Anthem. But the quarterback’s offensive expression of unpopular views shouldn’t cost him employment opportunities. NFL teams have the right not to hire Kaepernick because of his ideology and the way he expresses it. However, something valuable is diminished when they exercise that right — the freedom powerfully to express unpopular political views.
The Baltimore Ravens are considering bringing in Kaepernick. Their starting quarterback has been battling injury. Their backup has never demonstrated Kaepernick’s quality.
Baltimore’s coach, John Harbaugh, and its general manager, the legendary Ozzie Newsome, reportedly have recommended signing Kaepernick. However, team owner Steve Bisciotti has hesitated.
He solicited fan opinion and asked for prayers. That was about a week ago. Kaepernick remains unsigned.
Bisciotti’s response strikes me as ridiculous. There’s no need for prayers or a plebiscite. Either follow the advice of your football men and sign the guy or say you don’t want Kaepernick on your team, as is your right.
But stop with the Hamlet crap. This isn’t a decision about whether to go to war.
There is evidence, though I don’t think it’s conclusive, that the refusal of some players to respect the National Anthem cost the NFL television viewership last season. However, as noted, Kaepernick has said he will respect it this year. I think images of him standing for the Anthem will be salutary, as long as he doesn’t back down from his underlying opinions.
I hope he gets the opportunity to stand for the Anthem.