Fool’s Gold


Les Abbott, Sports Editor

On Friday, Aug 26 the San Francisco 49ers were set to play the Green Bay Packers for the team’s third preseason game. As most players stood during the playing of our national anthem, one player refused to do so: Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
His reasoning behind it being that he refuses to stand for a country where people of color are being oppressed. There have been numerous different takes on the subject, it being disrespectful as an American citizen and the side that is with him for standing up for what he believes in. Neither one is one I am getting into. Keep in mind, I have never met Kaepernick and my theory behind his bench sitting is only a theory. However, am I the only one who thinks he’s doing all of this for media publicity rather than standing up for what he believes in?
For those who don’t know, Colin Kaepernick is a 6 year NFL quarterback out of Nevada University who plays for the San Francisco 49ers. He was drafted in the 2nd round (pick 36) in the 2011 NFL Draft. By 2012-13 season due to an injury to former starting quarterback Alex Smith, Kaepernick got his first NFL start on a November 19 Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears. The 49ers won 32-7 as Kaepernick completed 16-23 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. From that point on he remained the 49ers’ starting quarterback.
As a starter, Kaepernick lead the 49ers to the 2013 Super Bowl where they would fall short to the Baltimore Ravens. The following season he would lead the 49ers to the NFC Conference Championship game. In those first two seasons as a starter had a record of 20-12 with 40 touchdown passes as opposed to 8 interceptions. Not to mention NFL Analyst Jon Gruden made a statement that Kaepernick has the potential to be the best quarterback the NFL has ever seen.
However, like anything else in life, nothing lasts forever. In 2014 head coach, Jim Harbaugh was fired from the team. Both the 49ers and Kaepernick have suffered. Since then Kaepernick has a mere 2-5 record with 6 touchdowns as opposed to 5 interceptions and lost his starting job in week 8 after a 27-6 collapse vs. the St. Louis Rams. Backup quarterback, Blaine Gabbert received the start week 9 and played the rest of the season.
Why is this important? During the success of the Harbaugh years in San Francisco, Kaepernick had his side of the field. Whether he was posing for GQ magazine, staring in the Madden video game commercials or posting a picture on Instagram of him purchasing a Miami Dolphins hat (a big no-no when you are a player/ starter on another NFL franchise), Kaepernick was no stranger to attention.
After his benching last season, Kaepernick had the opportunity to regain his starting job due to the hiring of a new head coach, Chip Kelly. Kaepernick and Gabbert were supposed to compete in training camps for the starting position and their performances in preseason would dictate whether the 49ers went with Gabbert or Kaepernick. However, due to a shoulder injury, Kaepernick could not play in the first two preseason games.
Due to a combination of Kaepernick’s shoulder and Gabbert’s performance in preseason and training camps, the expert opinion began to believe more and more that Gabbert would be the 49ers’ starting quarterback. Kaepernick’s days as a starter in San Francisco look to be about done, but not decided yet.
Where does all of this tie in? Kaepernick was used to so much attention as a starter, that the realization of him becoming a backup or, in his mind, irrelevant hit him, he figured he had to do something to stand out and regain attention.
I mean I guess sitting during the playing of our national anthem is one way to do it. But here is where it gets fishy for me. Kaepernick has been an NFL quarterback for 6 years. He has stood for every national anthem in the past, including the 2 previous preseason games where he was hurt. What changed? African American oppression? That has been going on since way before he was born. Was it the “Black Lives Matter” movement? That was started last summer, while he was still a starter. Why possibly would he have waited until then?
I believe if he really was trying to send a message, it would’ve made more sense if he had done this while he was still having success. The fact that he waited until experts believe he is more probable than not losing his starting job is too shady for my taste.
What does the future behold for Mr. Kaepernick? Only time will tell. Coach Kelly released a statement saying that only performances on the field will decide whether Kaepernick starts or not.
Since his acts, Kaepernick has his fair share of critics and supporters. Then there are people like me that believe he has all of us fooled.