Like most conservatives, when Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel for the National Anthem on September 1, 2016 in an NFL preseason game, I was irate. Not only was I insulted by the disrespect that Kap had shown the flag, and those that defended it, I was insulted at the idea of blending sports with politics in an already heated political climate, and, more than that, I was hurt that the man I had pulled for against the Ravens in the Super Bowl just three years prior was the one kneeling. On that day, I vowed to myself to not watch NFL football until the issue was resolved. I was losing nothing; I watched more college football anyways, why should I condone such behavior?
Since that day, however, I’ve returned to watching NFL football, rooting for the Patriots and any team with a Memphis Tiger on their roster because now I believe something different. Not only do I think I was wrong for thinking the NFL should force Kap and others to stand, I also think that Colin Kaepernick deserves another shot.
My original view failed to realized one thing; it is not just un-American to force one to stand for the Anthem, it’s hypocritical as well. As conservatives, we believe in small government and the idea of being left alone. While actions do have consequences, specifically at work, I find it morally grotesque that many conservatives lauded the idea of cheering for the failure of a man because he doesn’t agree with you politically. You cannot make someone a patriot by forcing them to do things deemed patriotic, especially on the basis of conform or be destroyed. No, that person has to embrace American exceptionalism on their own accord. You can lead them to the water, but you can’t make them drink.
Now let’s talk Kap’s stats. Selected in the early second round of the 2011 NFL Draft from Nevada, Kap was lauded as a good scrambling quarterback with arm strength and the ability to throw on the run. This ability was put on display early in his career when he ran for 181 yards in a postseason game against the Green Bay Packers in 2012, breaking the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a game, a record previously held by Michael Vick who ran for 175 yards in a regular season game in 2002. That same year, Kaepernick went on to fall just short of winning the Super Bowl, losing to the Baltimore Ravens by the score of 34-31.
Kaepernick holds a career total quarterback rating (QBR) of roughly 60.5. For reference, Cam Newton, a QB similar to Kaepernick in terms of playstyle, holds a career QBR of roughly 58.6 with two more years in the league.
The argument against Kap is always the same, however: Kap can’t pass the ball consistently. Kap holds a career completion rate of 59.8% compared to Tom Brady’s 64.0% and Hall of Famer Brett Favre’s 62.0%; his numbers aren’t bad at all. In fact, they’re in line with the markings of a decent quarterback. Especially one who had no offensive weapons around him most of his career like Kaepernick did. To say Kaepernick is a bad QB statistically is being ignorant of his statistics and is also a poor defense of why he’s out of the league. His numbers, outside of the 2015 season, are solid. He’s not the best quarterback, but he is certainly better than some QBs starting and backing up now. The facts and statistics simply don’t line up with the idea that he’s a terrible QB. He just isn’t.
Kap isn’t perfect by a long shot. He’s most likely divisive in the locker room, and, obviously, some of his actions have been disgusting. He also probably couldn’t swallow his pride enough to try the CFL or be a back up behind someone like Brady or Rodgers or even Baker Mayfield. He has that right and privilege, but, as an American and sports fan, I love an underdog story and the return of Colin Kaepernick is an underdog story waiting to happen.
We preach about separating sports from politics constantly. It’s time we do it ourselves by forgiving Kaepernick, stop wishing ill will upon him, and play some football.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.