By Rick Lytle, sports editor
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Everyone in the sports world, and most outside of it, have heard the new Nike slogan. The line is part of a new campaign by Nike, with Colin Kaepernick the face of the campaign.
According to Nike, Colin Kaepernick (the guy who wore socks showing police officers as pigs, wore a Fidel Castro shirt to a press conference, etc.) has “sacrificed everything” by losing his 6 year, $126 million salary he signed with the San Francisco 49ers in 2014.
In the 2016 NFL preseason, Colin Kaepernick started his protest. During the national anthem, he would take a knee in protest. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” was what Kaepernick said in a press conference to explain why he had started protesting. Fast forward a couple months later and Kaepernick has opted out of his contract (he was about to be released), and hasn’t been signed by any team.
The argument is that Kaepernick didn’t get signed in the 2017 free agency simply because of his protests that caused so much controversy, but it’s not that simple.
To start, we can rewind to the 2015 season. After starting the season as the 49ers starter, Kaepernick went 3-6 in his first 9 games before he got benched. He posted a QBR rating of 43.7, 179.4 YPG, and a 59% pass completion percentage. Those numbers ranked him 29th, 41st, and 34th. To no surprise, he found himself sitting on the bench to start the next season, 2016.
During the preseason of 2016, he started protesting. Interestingly enough, this was also the first time he had been the back-up since 2012. (Almost as if he only cared about this issue when he was a backup). After Blaine Gabbert posted a 1-4 record to start the season, it was Kaepernick’s turn again, and he started the week six game. Don’t forget that he was still protesting this whole time, so it doesn’t seem like the 49ers decided his playing time based on his protests, but that’s not the point.
The point is that he finished the season with a 1-10 record. During those games, he ranked 26th in completion percentage, 26th in touchdowns, and 30th in yards per game, all for qualified starters. To compare Kaepernick to similar players, his completion percentage of 59.2% is comparable to Jay Cutler’s 59.1%. To compare his yards per game, he had 25 less yards per game then Cutler, yet even Cutler was cut by the Bears the next offseason. Cutler was also standing for the anthem, so that sure isn’t why he got cut.
It would be naive to say that all 32 NFL owners were in support of Kaepernick’s decision to kneel. To think that the controversy surrounding him had nothing to do with him going unsigned after the 2017 team season is unrealistic as well. The point is that he was a subpar at best quarterback who had been bad for three years. Not only were his stats bad, but he simply couldn’t win at the end of his career either, going 4-16 in his last two NFL seasons.
Maybe Nike can learn what real sacrifice is, not a backup quarterback with millions to his name getting cut for off the field controversy and a performance worse than our hometown favorite, Jay Cutler.