NFL cut day came and went with all 32 franchises trimming their rosters down to 53 players, with plenty of waiver claims and free agent signings as quality players were released. Through it all, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a man that started in the league last year, remains jobless.
For those that don’t want to point to the obvious reason why the former 49ers starter is now out of the league, which is Kaepernick’s vocal and non-vocal protests of police violence and racial inequality in America, the tendency is to try and explain that he’s not a good quarterback or not worth the distraction. There’s an argument to be made that Kap isn’t a good starting quarterback in the NFL, but to say he doesn’t belong on a roster is the fastest way to tell on yourself, especially as more and more players follow his lead with protests.
Kaepernick’s conspicuous absence from a league roster remains an issue and topic of conversation as we enter the first week of the regular season. If anything, him not being on a roster has only been magnified by the continued support of the anthem protests he started by an ever-growing number of players and, most recently, Michael Bennett’s encounter and unjust detainment by Las Vegas police.
Roger Goodell released a statement voicing his and the league’s support for Bennett, which seemed like at least a slight tonal shift from how the league and Goodell have handled Kaepernick and his protests. However, Goodell got back to the basics of trying to dodge and avoid any questions on the issue on Thursday morning when asked, point blank, whether Kaepernick, based on his play last season, should still be a quarterback in the NFL on FS1’s “First Things First,” as transcribed by Pro Football Talk.
“I’m not a football expert,” Goodell said. “I’m a huge fan. I have a role as commissioner also, but for me I watch the games and enjoy and I let the football people make those decisions. And the reality is there’s 32 different decisions, and multiple decisions within an organization, so there’s always a dispute. The idea of who can play, who can’t play, who’s best for our system and not best for our system, are decisions that should be made by those 32 teams.”
It’s a top tier non-answer from Goodell and, while he’s not incorrect, the NFL commissioner saying he’s “not a football expert” is pretty funny. No, Goodell isn’t a football expert and no one should be surprised by this answer because Goodell would never betray the trust of the owners by stepping out of line and, god forbid, giving his actual opinion on the matter, even couching it as his opinion as a fan.
Goodell did say he wants “everyone to get an opportunity, including Colin,” but again, hedged that by saying those decisions are made by football people and that he was confident that Kaepernick would get that chance when the “right opportunity” came along. It’s the answer we should expect from Goodell at this point, but it’s still not satisfactory.