The Curious Case of Colin Kaepernick, Protester and Player

Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) shoots a selfie with fans outside the locker room during pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) shoots a selfie with fans outside the locker room during pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Football is all about balance. It is all about keeping your center of gravity stable as you progress under pressure – both physical and mental – through the field, through matchups and through the season. Colin Kaepernick must find that balance.

Football depends upon focus as well. Focus and balance. Let’s examine the curious case of Colin Kaepernick.

The Colin effect

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When Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem, starting back in August 14 last year, he disrupted that focus. Regardless of being right or wrong, beyond the discussion of the merit of the matter at hand, the NFL (and many NFL teams) gave Kaepernick a clear indication that that was neither the time nor the place for that demonstration.

So reports quoting people related to Kaepernick saying that he is being punished because he “cares about people” are wrong. If there is such punishment it is because, in the eyes of the showrunners, he became inconvenient. Simply put.

“Not the place, Colin! Not the place!”

In our society people are not supposed to discuss problems in birthday parties, church masses, weddings or social meetings (NFL contests included). Are there proper places to do that? Humm…Are there?

Sometimes, the “proper place” is here and now. And Colin Kaepernick clearly thought that when he recurrently made public his protests against what he understood as unfair conditions for disfavored citizens.

The resultant backlash was the silent rejection that Kaepernick has been facing since his protests.

The aftermath

The feeling of being  persona non grata in the football universe led Colin Kaepernick to deepen his involvement with social causes, as reported by Peter King in his article on Kaepernick.

It is understandable that a certain level of alienation on both sides (Kaepernick and the NFL teams) is the aftermath of Kaepernick’s doubts about the real purpose of the game and the teams’ doubts on Kaepernick’s capacity of regaining focus and balance for the game.

This explains why Kaepernick was apparently offline regarding all football matters and why the NFL teams were apparently not interested in Kaepernick’s services so far.

Regaining momentum

Since January this year, Kaepernick has been working in New York City under the supervision of a personal trainer. According to his trainer, Josh Hidalgo (who sometimes demonstrates a penchant for being a PR man for Kaepernick), Kaepernick is 100% committed to football and he is ready for a comeback.

Even though Hidalgo guarantees Kaepernick is in shape, it is a fact that the lack of time in a real football environment takes a toll on the capacity of any player to perform at the top level.

So, despite pushing hard in his standalone training sessions at the gym in NYC, Kaepernick needs to be reinserted in the context (and practices) of real football in order to regain full gear momentum.

Does Kaepernick really want that?

But before anything else, before he is given any chances with any football team – and apparently, the Seattle Seahawks are inclined to give him this chance – Kaepernick needs to answer the following question: “Do I really want to play football?”

This question, that he needs to answer first to himself, is the cornerstone of what happens next.

In order to know if he really wants to play football he will have to honestly conclude if he can (or cannot) keep his mind focused on the game, before he even prepares his body.

Mind will lead, body will follow. No personal trainer (in NY, Rio or Tokyo) will be able to answer that on behalf of Kaepernick.

How Kaepernick and Wilson stack up

Considering that Kaepernick is physically and mentally ready to be a Seattle Seahawk (from his own perspective), the debate is if he is still a good match for Pete Carroll’s team or not.

Here are some of Kaepernick’s stats (since 2011):

  • Games played: 69
  • Completions: 1,011
  • Attempts: 1,692
  • Completion percentage: 59.8%
  • Yards: 12,271
  • Interceptions: 30
  • Fumbles: 16
  • Rushing yards: 2,300
  • Touchdowns: 72

In comparison, here are some of Russell Wilson’s stats (since 2012):

  • Games played: 80
  • Completions: 1,476
  • Attempts: 2,281
  • Completion percentage: 64.7%
  • Yards: 18,193
  • Interceptions: 45
  • Fumbles: 25
  • Rushing yards: 2,689
  • Touchdowns: 127

We can see by these numbers that Russell Wilson is a steadier and more prolific QB than Kaepernick. In my opinion this means that Pete Carroll will not lose any nights of sleep trying to decide who will be his starting QB at the beginning.

On the other hand, Kaepernick presents himself as a serious contender for the place of immediate substitute in case Wilson needs some resting time or in case he gets injured.

The other option would be Trevone Boykin who is facing off-the-field problems with the law. Regarding Boykin’s stats, he still does not have enough games to be considered nearly the same caliber of Wilson and/or Kaepernick. Put this altogether and we can conclude that having Boykin as a probable immediate substitute for Wilson would be a shaky alternative.

Thus, considering the current scenario, the hiring of Colin Kaepernick by the Seattle Seahawks would be a natural choice.

What does it all mean for the Seahawks?

Regardless of being right or wrong, last season Colin Kaepernick made use of his position as a prominent football player (or celebrity status, as others would prefer) to have his points duly noted. Ok, check. But his social capital is not infinite and seems like this season NFL officials, the Seattle Seahawks and even the general public consider this kneeling-for-the-national-anthem chapter over. Kaput. So, tip for Kaepernick: focus on your football 100%.

If Kaepernick is ready and committed to focus solely on football he will for sure be a great addition to the roster of the Seattle Seahawks.

I can even say that in due time this season he will be a force to be reckoned with. He may even be able to put some questions in Pete Carroll’s head as to who should be starting the next game: Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick.

Let us wait and see.