The blatant blackballing of Colin Kaepernick continues

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

On Sunday night, an undrafted rookie from an FCS school may be playing quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Colin Kaepernick may be watching the game on TV. And, yes, something continues to be very wrong with that picture.

The NFL continues to blackball Kaepernick, consistently and continuously ignoring his ongoing desire to return to the NFL. The fact that the league has successfully blackballed him for two-plus seasons actually makes it easier now, since the knee-jerk response to the possibility of a Kaepernick return from many is that he hasn’t played in nearly three years.

Indeed he hasn’t, for illegitimate reasons. But it’s no surprise that those who hope to continue to keep Kaepernick out of football will make his ongoing unemployment as Exhibit A for continuing it, especially since the blackballing has otherwise been propped up by a slew of false narratives.

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The false narratives first emerged in early 2017, not long after he became a free agent. And they still persist.

“He opted out of his contract with the 49ers. . . . He has turned down multiple offers of employment. . . . He wants too much money. . . . He was benched for Blaine Gabbert. . . . He doesn’t really want to play. . . . He doesn’t fit many systems. . . . He’s a vegan.” It’s BS upon BS upon BS, and not nearly enough people are bothered by this ever-growing pile of foul-smelling fertilizer.

Meanwhile, Devlin Hodges from Samford could be Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback for a prime-time game this weekend. And others who were drafted late (Gardner Minshew) or not at all (Kyle Allen) or who didn’t play for more than three years due to serious injury (Teddy Bridgewater) have gotten chances that Kaepernick hasn’t.

“But those guys are all playing well!” some will say. Yes they are, and Kaepernick could be, too, if he’d been given the chance to prove that he can run the offenses in Jacksonville, Carolina, or New Orleans.

But the chance simply hasn’t come, and the ability to keep him from getting a chance has become the strongest ammunition for continuing to keep him from getting a chance. The fact that no one seems to care makes it even harder to cajole the league’s 32 teams to do the right thing. On Wednesday, for example, on-the-record quotes from Rihanna emerged regarding her decision to stiff arm an invitation to perform at halftime of Super Bowl LIII, and the story didn’t generate nearly the kind of attention that it should have.

“I couldn’t dare do that,” she told Vogue. “For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. . . . I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”

The fact that Rihanna is a client of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation would make her remarks even more significant, if anyone still cared about a collusive shunning that continues to happen in plain sight.

And, yes, collusion may still be happening. Even though Kaepernick settled his first collusion claim, he can pursue relief for violations happening since the settlement. The second lawsuit could end up being even stronger than the first one, since the argument would be that the NFL is collectively retaliating against Kaepernick for having the nerve to sue them.

Exhibit A for that claim could be the fact that a quarterback from Samford started a prime-time game in 2019.

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