Doug Baldwin is absolutely correct in the sense that this falls on the owners. When you look at some of the quarterbacks that have been signed as backups this offseason it’s almost certain that Kaepernick has been blackballed.
Doug Baldwin was mostly right.
Addressing the media for the first time since training camp began, the Seahawks receiver fielded a question about Colin Kaepernick on Saturday.
What do you think about the fact that he hasn’t been signed yet? a reporter asked.
Baldwin definitely had thoughts.
“My original position was I thought that the situation last year with him taking a knee didn’t have anything to do with it,” Baldwin said. “After viewing what’s going on, I’ve got to take that back. I definitely think that the league, the owners are trying to send a message of, ‘Stay in between the lines.’ ”
Baldwin is absolutely correct in the sense that this falls on the owners. When you look at some of the quarterbacks that have been signed as backups this offseason — from Dan Orlovsky to David Fales to, yes, Austin Davis — it’s almost certain that Kaepernick has been blackballed. There is always the possibility that Kaepernick is asking for more money than we realize or is only interested in a starting job, but given that he has been in contact with teams with established starters, that seems unlikely.
Baldwin is also correct in that the owners are trying to send a message. They don’t want controversy. They don’t want distractions. They don’t want anything that will distract from the near incomparably violent product billed as wholesome entertainment.
So credit Baldwin for speaking up. You have to think that most players feel the same way. But for Doug’s statement to be completely accurate, the last part of his quote would have read “the owners are trying to send a message of ‘stay between the lines’ — unless you’re really good at football.
Let’s be clear here: Colin Kaepernick is many hashmarks short of perfect. He wore pig socks to practice. He donned a shirt sporting Fidel Castro’s image and defended the former dictator. He didn’t vote in last year’s election.
But when you look around the NFL and see some criminals they employ, Kaepernick is almost Russell Wilson by comparison.
Pacman Jones has been arrested 10 times — three times for assault — and is preparing for his 13th season in the league. Kenny Britt has been arrested seven times and is preparing for season No. 9.
The Cowboys thought they could look tough by releasing Lucky Whitehead — a low-impact receiver whose shoplifting charge turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. But they had no problem signing domestic abuser Greg Hardy two years ago.
There are countless other examples. NFL players have been arrested 26 times in 2017 alone. You also have players such as Richard Sherman, who constantly criticizes the league, but will be paid handsomely for years to come due to his ability.
Hey, most of this is fine. Football players aren’t paid to be archetypes of morality. If they can contribute to a team’s success and fans want to watch them, so be it. But given the shady pasts of some of the players populating NFL rosters, it’s almost laughable that owners continue to deny Kaepernick a job.
You don’t have to like Kaepernick. You don’t have to agree with his practices or support his cause. He’s controversial for a reason, and one can make the case that he did all this to himself. But he’s also someone with a spotless criminal record who donated $1 million to charity, hands out suits to parolees and is truly trying to make a change for the better.
If he started conversations that wouldn’t otherwise be had, inspired fellow NFL players to get involved in their community or helped prevent even one instance of police brutality, then his efforts were worth it.
Obviously, this is a delicate issue. Fans who think Kaepernick’s protest was denigrating the American flag have every right to be upset. We haven’t seen something like this in sports for a long time, and it’s understandable that emotions boiled.
Colin Kaepernick, though — he isn’t the bad guy.
But owners blackballing him? That’s a bad look.