News & Politics

No, Trump Didn't Cost Colin Kaepernick a Job

Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) recovers a fumble by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, right, during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Colin Kaepernick may have been a household name last season, but it wasn’t for his play on the football field. He broke one of the cardinal rules of team sports by becoming a massive off-field distraction for his teammates, and worse, it was because he decided to take a knee during the National Anthem.

He did play a bit, and he didn’t play too poorly, all things considered. The fact that his team was beyond awful didn’t help, but his QB rating was the best it had been since 2013, a season out from winning the Superbowl.

Now he’s unemployed. And President Trump thinks he has something to do with that:

President Donald Trump reignited his feud with Colin Kaepernick, taking credit for the fact that the quarterback has not signed with a team since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers three weeks ago.

Speaking at a rally Monday night in Louisville, Trump said he was reading an article about NFL owners’ fears about signing Kaepernick, and said, “They don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that?”

He then added that he wanted to share this with “the people of Kentucky because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Kaepernick famously took a knee during the national anthem before 49ers games last fall to protest what he said was oppression of people of color, leading to dozens of athletes in multiple sports following with protests of their own.

In the midst of explaining his actions to reporters, Kaepernick called then-candidate Trump “openly racist.”

Trump wasted little time in firing back when asked during a radio interview about Kaepernick’s protest.

The thing is, football teams don’t really care that Kaepernick and Trump traded barbs. They primarily care about wins, they care about costs, and they weigh those factors against the negatives, if any, relating to his behavior.

Kaepernick was the starting quarterback for the majority of the season on a team that ranked 25th at that position out of 32 teams. Further, he was ranked 26th in completion percentage and a modest 17th in quarterback rating.

Much more was expected from him, as he made over $14 million total last year. That’s only a hair less than league MVP Matt Ryan made, and while it’s half what Superbowl MVP Tom Brady made, most of his income was a signing bonus.

A badly underperforming player who made the decision to disrespect his teammates in favor of disrespecting the troops?

No, Kaepernick’s inability to sign on with a team has little to do with the president’s opinion of him as a person or a player. It has to do with the obvious.