“Colin has to make up his mind whether he’s truly an activist or he’s a football player,” NFL all-time great Jim Brown told The Post Game yesterday about Colin Kaepernick’s employment situation. Brown, who has spent his life as both Hall of Fame player and activist (as well as actor), told his interviewer that it’s possible to do both, but that there has to be “intelligence involved.” Brown said the “real deal” is that “I’m an American, I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem”:
Jim Brown says he can appreciate Colin Kaepernick’s desire to fight for a righteous cause, but the Pro Football Hall of Famer and iconic social activist disagrees with his method.
“I want to be in his corner, and I do think, ‘God bless him,'” Brown told ThePostGame.
But kneeling for the national anthem the way Kaepernick did last season as 49ers quarterback isn’t how Brown would show leadership.
“I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American,” Brown said. “I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem. I’m going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I’ll work out the problems, but I’ll do it in an intelligent manner.”
In other words, Brown’s making the point that player value involves more than just the stats on the field. To be fair, Kaepernick did pledge to refrain from protesting during the national anthem this season, but his entourage may have undermined that with bizarre public statements that equated one team owner with slavery. In a team sport, people who continually call attention to themselves can talk themselves out of work. All one has to do is remember Terrell Owens and how long teams put up with his antics before cutting the talented receiver loose.
LeSean McCoy made that point in an interview with USA Today yesterday. The issue, McCoy says, isn’t the protests as much as it is the distraction for the rest of the team:
Some teams, McCoy said following practice Thursday, might consider it not being worth the “chaos” to take on a polarizing player such as Kaepernick to fill what’s likely to be a backup role.
“You’ve just got to look at all sides like, if I’m an owner or the GM of a team, do I want to put him on my team?” McCoy said. “Is he good enough to be on the squad to even deal with everything that’s going on?” …
“That may have something to do with it, but I think also it has a lot to do with his play,” McCoy said . “There’s certain players that could be on the team with big distractions, and there’s other players that it’s not good enough or not worth it.”
McCoy used a former Eagles teammate as an example:
“That’s a great example. Take a guy like Michael Vick, who went through all that he went through,” McCoy said. “He’s 10 times better than Kaepernick. So you’ll deal with that situation, you’ll deal with that attention, the media aspect of it, the good, the bad attention to it compared to Kaepernick.”
Kaepernick might not have had as much talent as Vick, but he’s still pretty good, and Super Bowl quarterbacks are tough to come by. If a team needs a starting QB fast in the first few weeks of the season, they’ll call Kaepernick’s agent. In this league and its hard-hitting action, it’s almost a certainty that some team will suddenly find Kaepernick’s distractions less of an issue than the possibility of a losing season after a QB goes down.
Update: For those debating Kaepernick’s on-field value, I reviewed the relevant stats a couple of days ago. His team went 2-14 last season, but (a) he spent a number of those games on the bench, (b) the 49ers were pretty awful all around, and (c) his QBR still was better than eight other starting QBs in 2016.