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As coaches were being asked about the ongoing absence of quarterback Colin Kaepernick from the NFL, we had a simple suggestion.
After all, they’re the ones who are keeping him out. They’re the ones who decided (collectively, allegedly) to not employ him after he exercised his right to protest during the national anthem throughout the 2016 NFL season.
But owners are rarely if ever asked about Kaepernick. Recently, it happened. In Race in America: A Candid Conversation, a production of NBCSportsBayArea.com, host Monte Poole asked Raiders owner Mark Davis about Kaepernick.
“I believe in Colin Kaepernick,” Davis said. “He deserves every chance in the world to become a quarterback in the National Football League. I still stand by it. If our coaches and General Manager want to bring him in or want him to be the quarterback on this team, I would welcome him with open arms.”
That answer, while admirable in isolation, glosses over the reality that the current quarterbacks on the Las Vegas roster other than starter Derek Carr are Garrett Gilbert and Nick Mullens. The Raiders could easily justify adding Kaepernick and then, if he performs well enough, moving on from Gilbert and Mullens.
Complicating matters for Kaepernick is the fact that he recently said he expects to start once he proves he’s worthy. The Raiders have an entrenched starter. Kaepernick would have to modify his objective before landing a roster spot with the Raiders.
But they could give Kaepernick a chance to practice, to prove himself. To play in the preseason. To put together the kind of film that would make it easier for someone else to sign him. Since Davis runs the show, he could instruct his football people to do it. Indeed, one of the benefits of being the owner is never having to make specific instructions like that.
“I think Colin is a very misunderstood human being,” Davis said. “I’ve gotten a chance to talk to him. I never really knew Colin, and I didn’t understand him. I didn’t understand the kneeling, what that meant initially. Over time, I have learned a little bit more about it.”
Plenty of others continue to refuse to understand Kaepernick’s decision to protest during the anthem. That’s one of the reasons why teams that currently don’t have franchise quarterbacks on the roster continue to avoid him. They don’t want to anger or alienate fans who will never understand what Kaepernick did, and who will always hate him for it.
Will the things Mark Davis said make a difference? Probably not. But it’s good that he said what he said. It will be even better if other owners are asked about Kaepernick, too.
The next opportunity will come when they gather for quarterly meetings in May.