It's the story that will never die, unlike Colin Kaepernick's NFL career. Which, to be clear, is dead. Colin Kaepernick will never take another snap in the NFL. He is not good enough, comes with a ton of baggage, and presents zero upside for an NFL franchise.
But every year a starting NFL QB gets hurt, and every year the talking heads use it as an opportunity to further cement his "martyr" status.
Before we get to the comments and the off-field controversies, let's just take a look at the football side of things. Kaepernick hasn't played in an NFL game since New Year's Day, 2017. It's been five years, eight months and 11 days. There are questions about how Deshaun Watson will play when he returns, having missed nearly two years. Now, we're considering someone who has missed more than five?
OK, but five years ago Kaepernick was a good NFL starting quarterback, right? Wrong. Over his last two seasons, a span of 19 games started -- he missed several games with injury, another red flag -- he completed less than 60-percent of his passes (59.1%, to be exact). That number represents the bare minimum in today's NFL in completion percentage, and he didn't even reach it.
The San Francisco 49ers, the team for whom he started, won just three of those 19 starts. Following that 2016 season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract and was never signed again. He sued the NFL, saying that the owners colluded to keep him out of the league and reached an undisclosed settlement.
In 2019, he held a sham of a workout at high school field, where he and his representatives limited media availability to only those who spoke positively of him. I was working at ESPN at the time and the network sent ... ready for this? Howard Bryant. Yes, this Howard Bryant:
This past offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders had him in for a tryout. It was a "disaster" according to Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.
He also released a documentary on Netflix where he compared the NFL Draft Combine to slavery. Yes, asking a bunch of young men -- of all races, mind you -- to workout in front of NFL scouts so that teams can potentially pay them millions of dollars is racist. Got it.
Let's recap. Kaepernick went 3-16 as a starter from 2015-2017. He completed less than 60-percent of his passes. Then, he sued the NFL. He has not played in an NFL game in 2,080 days. He's had a sham workout, two tryouts -- he also had a look with the Seahawks 2017, but wouldn't accept backup QB money even though he would have been ... a backup -- and remained unsigned by the teams who even gave him the courtesy of coming in. He made a documentary and compared the NFL Draft Combine to slavery.
Despite that, we have to have an obligatory conversation about a potential return. SMH, as the kids would say.
Who brought up Colin Kaepernick today, you ask? This will come as a total shock, but it was actually ESPN! Crazy, right. Ready for the really crazy part? It was brought up by Stephen A. Smith! Take a moment to gather yourself, I know that must have come as shock to the system.
OK, good. Now, watch for yourself:
Let's break down the game film. He starts by saying that it will never happen. That seems like a good opportunity, then, to just drop it. But of course that's not going to happen. He then mentions that he and Keyshawn Johnson were talking about it off-air. Lest you think this is just performative art! No, Stephen A. and a former NFL wide receiver were having an earnest dialogue about Colin Kaepernick being a legitimate option for the Dallas Cowboys. I'll take things that never happened for $200, Alex.
The next part is where it actually gets offensive. Stephen A. gives his reason as to why it won't happen. Is it because of all the reasons mentioned above? That Kaepernick hasn't played in over five years and stunk when he did? Of course not. It's because the Cowboys play in Texas. And Texans have the audacity of being too patriotic for Colin Kaepernick.
"This is Texas," Stephen A. smugly comments, "in the state of Texas, patriotic individuals that they pride themselves on being."
What a crime.
To ESPN and Stephen A., being patriotic is a problem. Is he suggesting that if Justin Herbert gets hurt, the Chargers should give him a call? Matt Stafford didn't look great on Thursday against the Bills, should the Rams give him a call? After all, no city hates America more than Los Angeles.
Next up is his opportunity to go to a standard Kaepernick talking point, that his "narrative was hijacked." Poor choice of words -- given the date -- aside, pointing out that kneeling during the country's National Anthem is disrespectful apparently counts as assaulting Kaepernick's narrative.
Here we are. Week 1 of the NFL season. A time to rejoice that football has fully returned. It was an excellent weekend that featured some incredible comebacks and upsets on both the college and NFL level.
But ESPN and Stephen A. Smith couldn't get more than 15 minutes into First Take before they brought up Colin Kaepernick. What a shame.