Ratto: Why Colin Kaepernick deserves better than football

The fix was in, as firmly and resolutely as ever, in Atlanta

Ray Ratto
November 18, 2019 - 9:20 am

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

You all know how the NFL's bait-and-switch extravaganza with Colin Kaepernick played out Saturday. You watched another weekend of football of Sunday. And Monday, people started speculating about what quarterback-bedeviled team should sign him.

It's as if nobody pays any attention to anything.

Saturday was a legal procedure only. The league through its lead counsel Jeff Pash wanted Kaepernick to sign one more paper declining his right to sue the league for collusion before allowing him an artificially created and unusually restrictive workout which would almost surely have resulted in nothing whatsoever. Kaepernick's assembled people saw through the ruse and took his own workout somewhere else.

And he will not be signed by anyone. Again. And still.

Yet people still think that somehow there is a football decision to be made by a football person about Colin Kaepernick. The league just reinforced its position on him, and the 32 owners remain utterly committed to making him take a knee before them simply for the right to try out because they took an indefensible position and intend to hold it forever. They cannot trust each other, and contracts don't work without trust.

There are places where he could start, even if your only yardstick is "Well, he has to be better than the hyena they've got at the position." There are more places still where he could be a backup. This is disputed only by people who think he is a political criminal who should be hounded into the woods because he knelt for a song most fans pay no attention to, and said things they found offensive to their own sensibilities.

But the NFL needs him as the human shield for their brief downturn in business two years ago, and even though they clearly did it in a way that makes them feel legally vulnerable, it also needs leverage to prevent him from suing them again. That's what the workout was about — leverage, not football.

Yet there are folks saying that he could have replaced Jameis Winston in Tampa or Kyle Allen in Carolina or Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago or… well, you get the drift. Well, he can't replace any of them because those jobs will not be offered to him. The football people don't get a vote on this, and even if they did, they would not dare offend the suits that hired and pay them. The NFL said that again Saturday in every way but the written word.

In doing so, it put on notice every media member across the football diaspora to stop suggesting teams for whom Kaepernick could play. The fix is in, as firmly and resolutely as ever. The people who give you football don't want him to play football unless he waives his legal rights to remind everyone that they kept him from playing football. Catches don't get much more 22 than that.

So no, Colin Kaepernick cannot fix your quarterbacking problem. I mean, he could, but he can't. If your team has a lousy quarterback, you eat that one until told to stop eating. And if you're a pundit, you don't get to use his name for your far-fetched weekly premise. Let a thousand Chase Daniels bloom, because that's the NFL the NFL thinks you should have.

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