Will Colin Kaepernick become the next Craig Hodges?
(ThyBlackMan.com) One of the most high profile names of the 2016 NFL season remains a free agent in 2017. Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, became the face of the season long discussion about NFL protests of the National Anthem during the 2016 NFL season. His actions of kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem and his words regarding his protesting police brutality made him a polarizing figure all across the country. He is currently a free agent without a team to play for following a season in which his team struggled but he displayed enough production to rank 23rd in Total QBR, which is an advanced metric that measures quarterback efficiency.
He is not the quarterback he was a few years ago when he was considered among the bright young quarterback talents in the NFL but he is also not old by quarterback standards as he will be 29 years old at the start of the 2017 NFL season. Yet Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent and he may go down the path of another former sports figure who made a political statement, Craig Hodges.
Craig Hodges was one of the better shooters of the 1980s in the NBA. He was never an NBA All-Star but he was a contributor on two NBA championship teams, the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls and the 1991-92 Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately, he never played for another team in the NBA after the 1991-92 NBA season. When the Chicago Bulls visited the White House after winning the 1992 NBA Championship, Hodges made a decision deemed controversial after the 1991-92 NBA season as he wore a dashiki, and handed then President George H.W. Bush a letter that asked him to do more to end injustice toward the African-American community.
Craig Hodges would later file a lawsuit against the NBA after being unable to land an offer or a tryout with an NBA team after his actions in the White House. Although Hodges was 32 years old in the summer of 1992, he shot a solid 37.5 percent from three point range during the 1991-92 season yet never was signed by another NBA team and there is a longstanding notion that his outspoken political words and actions led to him being blackballed by NBA teams.
Colin Kaepernick faces the most interesting summer of his NFL career. He has to shake the belief that he will be a media distraction for any NFL team that will sign him. Despite his actions being considered controversial by some, Kaepernick’s former 49ers teammates thought so highly of him last season that he was awarded the Len Eshmont Award, given to the 49er who “best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team.” The award, which was established after Eshmont died in 1957, is considered the most prestigious honor the players vote on.
Even though last season showed that Colin Kaepernick will likely never become a quality starting quarterback again, he did display enough ability to be a backup quarterback in the NFL. He plans to be standing for the National Anthem this NFL season so that cannot be used as reason to not sign him. If he is never signed by an NFL team, the words of Donald Trump regarding Colin Kaepernick’s ability to play in the NFL will have been realized and the NFL will have a significant and potential collusion problem to address.
Staff Writer; Mark Hines