Taking a knee: How Colin Kaepernick started an NFL movement
Sometimes in sports, though rarely, a player’s availability and the right situation dovetail for a perfect fit.
This is the time. This is the team.
Colin Kaepernick should finally be allowed to continue his career as an NFL quarterback, and it should be as a Miami Dolphin.
Some may recall quarterback was the job he held (and did quite well), before his social activism cast him unfairly as something poison, something to ostracize.
There are myriad reasons Kaepernick’s comeback as a Dolphin makes sense, and we’ll share them.
The main reason to not do it? Cowardice. But I believe Miami now has the right leadership in place — in owner Stephen Ross, personnel chief Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores — to overcome any fear of distraction or backlash.
Heck, the Dolphins have struggled to be nationally relevant, to be interesting, since Dan Marino retired. Signing Kaepernick would foist Miami back onto the radar. It would be a jolt of electricity to enliven a franchise that could dearly use one.
The Dolphins are not looking for a savior or long-term answer here. They are looking for a stopgap, a temporary bridge that gets Miami from Ryan Tannehill, the longtime incumbent who was traded Friday to Tenerssee, to the franchise QB they hope to draft this April or in 2020.
Kaepernick, a motivated, low-mileage 31 after last playing in 2016, is the perfect bridge.
The Dolphins went after Tyrod Taylor in free agency, but failed to convince him that starting for a year in Miami was a better gig than backing up Philip Rivers in Los Angeles.
The Dolphins then went after Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami native and lifelong Dolphins fan, but he opted to re-sign with New Orleans as Drew Brees’ backup.
(These are further indications the perception is that Miami, rebuilding, is headed for a rough season).
Kaepernick is arguably better than Taylor and Bridgewater but not to such a degree you risk being too good and ruining your shot at a high draft pick in 2020. Kaepernick also does not have the same fallback option to easily turn down a Miami offer. If he wants to play again — and he says he does — this could be a buyer’s market for the Dolphins. Unconfirmed reports he was demanding $20 million to play in the new Alliance of American Football sounded ridiculous. (But that’s still less than the the $26.6 million salary cap hit if the Fins keep Tannehill another year).
The dwindling market of other available experienced arms includes Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler, but they are not better options than Kaepernick — only safer ones, because only Kaepernick is polarizing.
Miami is a perfect fit because Kaepernick is a dual-threat QB whose versatility is adaptable.
Miami also is a perfect fit because, led by Kenny Stills, the Dolphins more than any other NFL team have carried forth what Kaepernick began in 2016 by first kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police shootings of unarmed young black men. What was a symbolic demand for social justice was off-putting to many who saw it as anti-flag, but that misplaced outrage seems to be dissipating.
It also bears noting that Ross is a progressive owner whose RISE project — Ross Initiative In Sports for Equality — was created “to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations.” Those are exactly the aims of the protest movement Kaepernick founded. Signing this quarterback would champion Ross’ RISE initiative like nothing else has.
Might the signing upset some? Sure. Including perhaps some Cuban-American who would point out that Kaepernick once wore a T-shirt depicting a meeting between Malcolm X and Fidel Castro. (The QB’s only praise of Castro was to note the money spent on education there).
Kaepernick is an activist, yes. He is a political man. He believes some things are more important than football.
Sometimes lost in the equation, he also is a quarterback eager to play again.
He is allowed to be all of those things, if the NFL — or one brave team — will let him.