Have you heard? Colin Kaepernick will no longer kneel during the national anthem. Claiming that his mission was essentially accomplished, Kaepernick’s new agents made sure to let all 32 NFL teams know that their client would now respectfully stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This news came right on the heels of news that the quarterback, who has been with the San Francisco 49ers since he was drafted in 2011, would enter free agency for the first time in his career.
And the timing of that news was not lost on some NFL officials.
According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, more than a few NFL officials at the NFL scouting combine could be described as extreme skeptics.
According to an earlier report from Freeman, Kaepernick made a lot of NFL executives furious when he began kneeling for the national anthem in the 2016 NFL preseason.
“I don’t want him anywhere near my team,” one front office executive told Freeman. “He’s a traitor.”
“He has no respect for our country,” another team executive said.
“In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick,” declared one general manager. And let’s not forget that the NFL has had more than its share of dubious characters walk onto a football field.
Those quotes were all taken in 2016. Fast forward to the 2017 NFL scouting combine, where multiple executives gathered to evaluate potential prospects for their respective teams. Freeman is reporting that the overall sentiment on Kaepernick hasn’t changed in the last eight months or so.
One executive described him as “an embarrassment to football.”
Kaepernick has become such an unequivocal PR disaster for the NFL that the prospect interviews at the combine included Kaepernick-related questions. According to Bleacher Report, agents confirmed that several players were asked specifically about Kaepernick, and the combine interviews included more political questions, specifically pertaining to Kaepernick’s protests and future potential protests, than they could ever remember.
One player said a team directly asked him if he agreed with Kaepernick’s protests. After saying yes, he was immediately asked why. He was then asked if he would participate in similar protests. Teams have become so averse to the idea of dealing with a similar headache that the combine interviews are now vetting these young men to ensure they will not become the next Kaepernick.
It’s pretty clear that Kaepernick and his agents were hoping for an upswell of support after announcing his desire to stand during the anthem. Based on the general mood at the combine, it clearly isn’t working.
Perhaps the most damning sign for Kaepernick is the market chatter. This is an offseason in which some teams are so starved for competent quarterback play that Tampa Bay backup Mike Glennon is garnering interest that could net him $14 million to $15 million annually. Mike Glennon! And yet no team or dollar figure is being attached to Kaepernick. The fact that his stock has fallen below that of a Glennon shows just how damaging his anthem protests were in the eyes of NFL executives.
So will Kaepernick get signed this offseason? Most likely. There are too many teams bereft of talent at the quarterback position with too much money to spend. But the fact that Kaepernick can’t generate buzz with that market speaks volumes about what the NFL thinks of him right now. Quarterbacks like Brian Hoyer and Glennon are getting talked about before Kaepernick. If that doesn’t open his eyes, nothing will.
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