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Monday 18th Dec 2017

Are we all confused regarding Colin Kaepernick, and his strange path to non-existence?

It was only three years ago that Kaepernick dabbled with Joe Flacco on a McDonalds commercial, when the Niners Quarterback was hot as a habanero, his team recognizing a superior skill set that simply sent the ever steady Alex Smith to Chief-dom.

In trying to both understand Colin the man, and what might make him tick, as well as assessing why in god's name the Jaguars or Browns, or even a return to San Francisco--all of whom could really use a talented QB--cannot pull the trigger on signing him, I tried to do a little research.

I knew that Kaepernick was adopted, but not that his first years were spent in Wisconsin when the family moved to Central California and the town of Turlock, and it seems he had a normal family in which he was not the only athlete (brother Kyle was scouted in high school for football).

In 2007, Kaepernick went to college at Nevada, though he was a good enough baseball player to be drafted by the Cubs in 2006 (as a pitcher) in the 43rd round out of high school.

So, college and then a second round pick of the Niners in 2011 who was a back-up until 2012 when Alex Smith went down with a concussion in Week 10, giving Kaepernick a shot at strutting his stuff, which he did. Coach Jim Harbaugh, from then on, played Kaepernick for the rest of the season and Colin, who could run and throw and drive a team, pushed all the way to the Super Bowl where the team lost, but nobly enough.

In 2013, Smith was sent to Kansas City and Kaepernick owned the helm of the San Francisco offensive squad, and again drove the team to the NFC Championship game only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champ Seahawks.

Then came the ostensibly magic year of 2014, when Kaepernick made the McDonalds commercial, and he signed a six-year $126 million deal, but the rest of the season turned sour as San Francisco finished 8-8, missed the playoffs, and amid words around just how difficult life was around Jim Harbaugh. Things in Ninerland were at best dicey. 

During the season, Kaepernick was fined $10K for using "inappropriate" language on the field, which seems crazy as I have to think in the heat of battle just about everything imaginable is said on the gridiron. But, who knows? Later that year, Kaepernick was fined for wearing Dr. Dre "Beats" headphones during post-game interviews rather than phones made by Bose, the official headphones partner of the NFL.

Just within my narrative thus far there are a few things suggesting issues. For one, I think Harbaugh was always overrated as the San Francisco head coach, and think his sort of dogmatic military style was much better suited to impressionable college students rather than highly paid stud athletes upon whom he depended for his own success. But, in the end, I don't think he was a good match for a Kaepernick.

Perhaps that, coupled with the silly fine for swearing (I am assuming) triggered the "defiance" in wearing the Dr. Dre's, which is kind of understandable. At least it is something I can relate to as one who does not always appreciate being told what to do. 

But in 2015, he got hurt and the team was deteriorating and Kaepernick's skills appeared to fall apart in step, which brings us from the lousy 2015 to a somewhat better 2016, and the social protest during the National Anthem and poof, free agent city.

What then gets strange is that $126 million contract which seems to suggest that in addition to being happy to be shed of Harbaugh, Colin was the future. 

Personally, I not only don't care if Kaepernick sits during the National Anthem. If he is voicing his freedom of speech in doing so, I believe it to almost be a duty (and, I have never understood why we sing that song prior to sporting events of all things in the first place). But, I do believe in freedom of speech such that whether I like it or not, he gets to sit and the stupid Nazis get to march in Charlottesville. Because, as I believe Dr. King once said, "There is nothing against the law in being a racist: Only in acting upon it."

In that vein, the same "politically conscious" Kaepernick who prefers to sit at political moments could not delineate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, making me wonder exactly how Kaepernick's ethos works, if at all?

If I owned an NFL team, there is obviously a lot I am willing to "ignore" if you want to win, so what exactly is it about Kaepernick that is so bad? For he may indeed have made enemies by his political stance, but similarly, his jersey is the top seller for the NFL and I cannot believe that many people bought them in order to burn them. 

But, why would a team, still indebted to a talented young (Kaepernick is 29 at writing) quarterback for three more years, struggling to rebuild, simply dump their theoretically franchise player unless there was something else under the surface? 

What, I don't know, and I certainly have no dark thoughts about what might be at the source of all of this other than maybe he is a head case as they say? Maybe Colin Kaepernick is a football counterpart to Milton Bradley: Skilled athletically beyond all belief, but just not worth the emotional baggage trade off in the long run?

Tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Thursday night at 9 PM ET and you can follow me @lawrmichaels.

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