A week shy of the midway point of the football season, the two winless NFL teams are no surprise. They are the Cleveland Browns and Colin Kaepernick’s former team, the once-storied San Francisco 49ers. As the Browns have never even made it to the big game, this is frankly to be expected. But what of the Bay City’s franchise, winners of five Super Bowl championships: the second most in the league? Making matters worse is a now disgruntled NFL fan base — and the domino effect causing professional athletes not to perform at their best.
In the sports movie A League of Their Own, Jimmy Dugan (played by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks) famously exclaimed, “There’s no crying in baseball!” As an inverse parallel, neither should there be mute obstructionists in football. Let’s be clear on a couple of important details. First, the field is the football player’s workspace. In no industry does any employee have the right to engage in political demonstrations — whether they’re physically disruptive or not. Thus, the setting for such “social justice” stunts is inappropriate. Moreover, such blatant disrespect of country should not have been condoned by the NFL. Second, while Colin Kaepernick’s antics have clearly not endeared him to the NFL, his lack of gridiron success tells the tale according to Doug Farrar of bleacherreport.com:
He started 11 games last season, completing 196 of his 331 passes for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions, and he added 69 runs for 468 yards and two touchdowns. He did so on a 49ers team that finished the season 2-14….
Given the pitiful result of only two victories, what coach would hire him as a starting quarterback for a different team? Kaepernick’s MSM supporters spuriously suggest racial discrimination as an alternative explanation, but that’s preposterous: 70 percent of the players in the National Football League are black! In truth, his lack of success and his overvaluation of self are the main reasons he finds himself unemployed. In retrospect, was it wise for Mr. Kaepernick to choose to walk away from his lucrative contract with the 49ers?
Successful football teams — same as flourishing nation-states — are based upon harmony and cohesion. Who wants to take a multi-million dollar chance on a rabble-rouser who has repeatedly demonstrated he can’t win football games? Adding to his troubles is his own rampaging political Frankenstein monster. Mr. Kaepernick’s very presence now detracts from any team’s purpose: to gain fans and win Super Bowls. Such is the self-imposed fate of this lightning rod for un-Americanism.
Another absurdity is that an entitled millionaire 20-something claims to represent the oppressed! Only an egotist — wanting to distract from the reality of his poor track record — would “elevate” himself by initiating a counterculture insurgency. What better way to draw media attention to himself than to flout the enduring tradition of standing during the National Anthem?
Kneeling-as-protest remains a silent criticism of this foundational symbol of American unity. Speaking of social inequality, why should less well-heeled spectators spend their hard earned money watching spoiled athletes grandstand? As the cratering TV ratings indicate, Sundays are days off for former football aficionados to seek out less polarizing forms of entertainment.
For those who remain, booing fans and partially filled stadiums aren’t helping team morale across the league. Synchronistically, this dynamic is epitomized by San Francisco’s record as tied-for-worst. On a psychological level, is it possible that Kaepernick’s former team shares in the stain of his dishonorable behavior? Simply put, have they so internalized his self-defeating victimization narrative — and been distracted by its fallout — that they believe they are losers, and act accordingly?
For context, recall that football games are mock battles. Thus, NFL players experience similar stressors to mind and body as any soldier in a war zone. Ultimately, it matters not that they are world-class athletes if their heads are not collectively in the game. Negative mindsets and debilitating mood swings lead inexorably to risk of injury, lost play opportunities, and subpar game day performance. This remains true whether or not individual players have chosen to protest; clearly whole teams have been adversely affected. So, too, has the ringleader. Ironically, perhaps he most of all. By decisions he clearly regrets today, Colin Kaepernick finds himself outside the NFL. Thus, for all concerned, important life lessons can be gleaned. At their root is that politics in sport is poisonous.