John Steigerwald

Column John Steigerwald

John Steigerwald has been a fixture of TV, radio, and newspaper sports in Pittsburgh, and has a Sunday column in the Observer-Reporter.

Kaepernick’s stance – or non-stance – could be costing him a job

March 18, 2017

Colin Kaepernick says from now on he will stand when the Star Spangled Banner is played before NFL games.

It’s beginning to look like he’ll be in civilian clothes and standing in front of his seat in a stadium and not wearing an NFL team’s uniform while standing on the sideline.

Kaepernick has been a free agent for a few months now and hasn’t found a team that wants him.

Actually, there might be a few teams that need him to play quarterback because he might be better than the one they have. He’s definitely better than more than a few backup quarterbacks, including Landry Jones of the Steelers.

Why would he or anyone else be surprised by this?

Kaepernick made the decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem beginning with San Francisco 49ers’ preseason games last August.

He said he did it because, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. This is bigger than football.”

Wearing a Fidel Castro T-shirt at the time, he said that wasn’t a very good idea. Neither was showing up at practice wearing socks with pictures of pigs dressed as cops on them.

Kaepernick is finding out he was right.

His stance against perceived oppression was bigger than football. And it was courageous, if he knew it might cost him his job.

That it probably did shouldn’t surprise him.

If you were an NFL coach or general manager, whether you agreed with his protest or not, would you want the circus that would show up at your training camp if you signed him?

Of course, Joe Mixon, a running back from Oklahoma who is on a video gone viral that shows him punching a woman in the face and breaking her jaw a couple of years ago, probably will be standing on a sideline in an NFL uniform in September.

The consensus seems to be he’ll be taken no later than the third round.

NFL teams ignoring bad behavior by good players is nothing new, and Mixon will bring a circus of his own, but he’s guilty of a one-time, spur-of-the-moment offense.

Kaepernick’s offense was premeditated and intended to offend his employer’s customers.

It worked.

Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report surveyed seven NFL executives in August and found he was “truly hated” by most team executives. The seven he surveyed said they believed most people despised Kaepernick and would never sign him.

Kaepernick is not being shunned because of his views. He’s being shunned because he wasn’t smart enough to know he couldn’t get away with alienating most of his employer’s customers while he was on the job and earning $800,000 per week.

• Do you remember Myron Rolle? Probably not. He’s a cornerback who spent some time with the Steelers in 2012 and never played in a regular season game.

He’ll soon be spending his time at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital doing his neurosurgery residence.

Yep. He’s on his way to being a brain surgeon.

It’s nice to see a student athlete who will use what he learned from his free education. Rolle’s a great lesson for all the college football and basketball players who don’t take advantage of their free education.

Becoming a brain surgeon is a long shot for anyone, but it’s really not much longer than becoming an NFL or NBA player. How many kids taking part in spring practices right now at major football schools believe they’re going to be drafted and/or play in the National Football League?

Studies show 98.5 percent won’t.

The odds are even higher against basketball players – 1.1 percent will play in the NBA.

That means a college football player has almost as much chance of becoming an NFL player as he has of becoming a brain surgeon.

• After getting shut out again this year, the Nos. 15 and 16 seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament are now 9-264.

The No. 16 seeds are 0-132.

When will it occur to the NCAA and basketball fans that those low seeds should be playing in a tournament they have a chance to win?

How about one in which they have a chance to win a game?

In the first two days of this year’s tournament, teams seeded 12th or lower were 1-19. And there are people who will tell you that nothing in sports is better than the first few days of the NCAA tournament.

The 12 through 16 seeds that have won less than 25 percent of their games since the tournament went to 64 teams would have been much better served playing in their own tournament.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday sports column for the Observer-Reporter.

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