Like most politicians, President Trump likes to take credit for things he didn’t do. Add Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment to the list.
Monday, during a speech in Kentucky, our POTUS said the quarterback who turned taking a knee into a political statement hasn’t found a job in the NFL because owners “don’t want to get a nasty tweet from President Trump. Do you believe that?’’
Same can be said for film director Spike Lee’s assertion that Kaepernick’s continued unemployment “Smells MAD Fishy To Me, Stinks To The High Heavens.” Lee implied the former 49ers’ quarterback was blackballed for his refusal last season to stand for the National Anthem. If that’s so, what’s the hold up on Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler and the “Amish Rifle,” Ryan Fitzpatrick.
They all stood tall for the anthem but are now sitting in the unemployment office right next to Kaepernick. Is there an unannounced boycott against experienced but inferior quarterbacks this month?
As conspiracy theories go, Kaepernick being blackballed ranks right up there with Obama tapped my microwave oven. There is a reason why all these guys are looking for work, and it has nothing to do with their musical appreciation for anthems, or lack thereof, and everything to do with the number 63.
Last year not one of them completed 60 percent of their throws in a league now demanding 63 percent as the acceptable minimum. With so much emphasis on the short passing game, accuracy is at a premium now more than ever.
Two of the Unemployed Boys, RG III and Cutler, have career completion percentages over 60 but losing records and dwindling performances the recent years. In 2016, Cutler was 59.1 percent and Griffin 59.2 percent so they, like Kapernick, are unemployed.
How accurate was Kaepernick last year? He was at 59.2 percent. What is his career completion percentage? Try 59.8. These days that will get you fired, whether you take a knee or jump with glee.
As one veteran NFL personnel man whose opinion I trust told me this week, “The outside distractions are a factor for some teams with Kaepernick, but the real factor is the tape. Put on the tape.”
As one veteran NFL personnel man whose opinion I trust told me this week, “The outside distractions are a factor for some teams with Kaepernick but the real factor is the tape. Put on the tape.’’
What he was alluding to is that since Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers and took the read-option to Michigan, Kaepernick is 11-24 as a starter with a completion percentage of 59.2. In his first two years, when he was making plays primarily on the run even when passing, he was 17-6 with a completion percentage of 60.1, which is the Mendoza Line of football.
Sink below that and you’re on your way out.
In the three years Kap ran the read option he rushed for 1,578 yards, third best in the NFL among quarterbacks, and threw more than twice as many TDs as picks (50-21). Yet, even at that, his 60.1 completion average was 23rd in the league. The downside of his game has gotten worse the more he’s been contained in the pocket, where, frankly, he resembles Tim Tebow more than Tom Brady.
Since the start of the 2015 season, Kaepernick’s completion percentage is 59.1, or 32nd in a league with only 32 teams. See the problem? Quarterbacks with broken GPS systems tend to spend a lot of time looking for work. Just ask Fitzpatrick, who was 56.6 percent last season and is now looking for his seventh team in a 12-year career.
So is Kaepernick being blackballed for his political stance, or has he been stymied by the wild balls he’s been throwing? The latter, plus the fact that many teams in need of a quarterback are on hold to see what develops on Draft Day and in the trade market — which is more the problem at the moment.
If Kaepernick is still unemployed in June or July, then you can talk about a possible boycott for taking an unpopular political stand. But, at the moment, that’s a charge that’s really fake news.