Which NFL owner, G.M., or coach will be this moment’s Branch Rickey?

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

At least one team is interested in Colin Kaepernick, according to the coach of the only team that has brought Kaepernick in for a visit during his three years (and counting) of being shunned by the NFL. The interest team is still unknown, as is the outcome to this period that seems to have cast Kaepernick in a much different light.

Fear alone and fear itself continues to paralyze some teams that would potentially benefit from Kaepernick’s presence on the depth chart. In Houston, Kaepernick meshes with Deshaun Watson‘s skillset much better than A.J. McCarron‘s does. In Minnesota, where former Broncos coach Gary Kubiak runs the offense, the Vikings should be interested for the same reasons the Broncos were in 2016, before the protests began. Besides, Sean Mannion currently is the backup to Kirk Cousins.

In Baltimore, Kaepernick would be an upgrade to Robert Griffin III as the backup to Lamar Jackson. And the Ravens likely agree; they apparently were trying to drum up interest in trading Griffin and his relatively small $2 million salary in March.

Other teams would, should, and/or could be interested. Look around the league. Is Mason Rudolph a better option than Kaepernick in Pittsburgh, if Ben Roethlisberger gets injured again? Is Brian Hoyer a better option than Kaepernick in New England, where Kaepernick once shredded the Bill Belichick defense? Jacksonville opted for Mike Glennon to backup Gardner Minshew. Mike Freaking Glennon.

How about the Chiefs? Andy Reid has given plenty of players second chances (including most notably Mike Vick). Vick missed two years for dogfighting; Kaepernick has missed three years for trying to make the American experience better for minorities.

Pop quiz: Who are Josh Love, Bryce Perkins, and John Wolford? Answer: They’re the current backups to Jared Goff in L.A. And they have combined experience of one year and zero pass attempts. Kaepernick surely would be a better option behind Goff than any of them.

Then there are the Seahawks. Geno Smith currently is the backup to Russell Wilson. Based Pete Carroll’s own words, he surely believes Kaepernick is better than Smith. So why not sign him — and in turn keep him away from the Rams or some other competitor?

Here’s the broader point, beyond the fact that there are many potential landing spots for Kaepernick. Whoever brings Kaepernick in will be remembered as this moment’s Branch Rickey, who integrated baseball by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. At the time, many weren’t happy with Rickey’s decision. Today, the name Branch Rickey has permanent significance in baseball and beyond for the courageous (under the circumstances) decision he made.

So who will it be now? Who will be the new Branch Rickey? Who is the coach, G.M., and/or owner that will take some short-term heat from a shrinking, shrieking niche of the fan base and position himself (or themselves) to be remembered fondly for a stand that will stand out in a chapter that will be discussed for decades?

Setting aside the football reasons and the business reasons (the jersey sales and other gains to the fan base likely will offset those disgruntled customers who are told “don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya”), there are reasons that transcend the temporary and resonate into history.

The opportunity is sitting there, ready to be seized. Begging for someone to become this moment’s Branch Rickey.

Which NFL owner, G.M., or coach will be this moment’s Branch Rickey? originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

What to Read Next