Intersection of Politics and the Oakland Raiders: Case Against Kaepernick

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Oakland Raiders
Jul 29, 2017; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders helmet on field during training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t an article I wanted to write.  Politics and sports are both topics that make rational people do and say irrational things to complete strangers solely on the basis of affiliation. Many people turn to sports to take a break from national and international affairs. But, the truth of the matter is, they  go hand in hand. Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier, Jesse Owens running all over the Nazis in Berlin during the 1936 Olympics, and the raised fists in the 1968 Olympics. Not to mention, Team USA defeating the Soviet Union in the 1980 in Lake Placid, and Raiders icon Al Davis.


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For better or worse, Raiders legend Al Davis was a renegade NFL owner. The only way was his way and if you didn’t like it, then move out of his way. Al broke many barriers in the pro football world. Tom Flores was the first Hispanic starting quarterback in the NFL; he also became the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl. Art Shell became the first African-American head coach in the modern NFL. Fritz Pollard has the honors as the first African-American head coach back in 1921 when he was a player/coach for the Akron Pros. Amy Trask was the first woman CEO of an NFL team.

It’s this track record and Al’s history of swimming against the flow of all the other owners that have some people believe that he would have signed Kaepernick. I am one of those people, but not for those same reasons.

If Al Davis was still alive, Kaepernick would probably wear the Silver and Black now. During his final years, Al wasn’t a very good GM in his later years and was especially horrible at finding talent to lead the Raiders under center.

If not for Rich Gannon, the Raiders quarterback list read like a who’s who of one hit wonders, draft busts, and  mediocrity between the duo of Marc Wilson/Jim Plunkett and Carr. Jay Schroeder, Todd Marinovich, Vince Evans, Steve Beuerlein, Jeff Hostetler, Billy Joe Hobert, Jeff George, Donald Hollas, Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter, Marques Tuiasosopo, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell (groan!), Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, J.P. Losman, Kyle Boller, Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Terrelle Pryor (Al’s final pick). Under those failed Raiders, the team finished in the top HALF in passing offense four times. Kaep would have fit right in.

Stats never lie! Yet, they can be used to deceive. The big argument these days is whether or not Kaepernick was a good quarterback or a bad one. And it’s split about 65/35 bad to good. Let’s tackle those numbers real quick. 16-4 touchdowns to interceptions is pretty good, great even. Only four possessed a 4-1 ratio or better. Yes, Derek Carr was one of them in case you were wondering. Granted, a 90.7 rating is very good. Those are the only two numbers that the “good QB” camp point to. The rest of his stats fall from mediocre to bad. First, off let’s throw out the win/loss record altogether because that is a TEAM stat.

Kaepernick was neither responsible for the 49ers 3 straight NFC championship appearances nor Super Bowl appearance nor is he responsible for their 7-25 record over the past 2 years. What he is responsible for is his own stat line and how well the passing offense is. In the 4 years that he was the team’s primary quarterback his passing offense ranked 32nd in 2016, 30th in 2014, 30th in 2013, and 23rd in 2012.

His style also has a negative effect on his individual stats. It wasn’t too long ago that every NFL team wanted a dual threat quarterback. Most wanted that guy that could hurt you with his arm but also could kill you by running 60 yards down the field leaving linebackers and  in their dust. Hell, everyone used to play as the Falcons in Madden just so they could embarrass the other team with Michael Vick because you couldn’t catch him. The drawback of injury loomed large. So the football world came back to its collective senses and came back to the prototypical pocket passer.  Newton, Wilson,Taylor, Kaepernick, Griffin,  Mariota and Manziel represent the tail end of that era.

Manziel is out of the league, Kaepernick and RGIII still remain unsigned free agents. Newton, Wilson, and Taylor, all had more than 70 rush attempts and were the only QB’s to run for more than that number (Kaep had 69 in 12 games). In a pass dominant league, you need to be able to move the ball downfield through the air. That is where Kaepernick’s limitations glare the most. Last year, he ranked 34th in the league in passing yards per game. In other words, 30th out of 30 of Qualified QBs (minimum of 14 attempts per team’s games played) with meager 187 yards per game.

As bad as that sounds, that’s actually HIGHER than his career average. In 2015, he was 34th out of 34 qualified QBs with 179 yards per game average. That’s two yards more than his career average. The year before, he stood 25th out of 33 qualified passers, with 211 yards per game, a career high average. In 2013 he was 32nd out of 37 qualified quarterbacks with 200 yards. He did not qualify in 2012 when Alex Smith went down with an injury, that year he had a 139 yard per game average. His completion percentage is equally as bad, with a 59.8 percent rate. In 2016 he  ranked 26th of 30. Two years ago,  ranked 30th of 34. In 2014, Kaepernick sat 24th out of 33. In 2013 he was ranked 31st out of 37. Surely he does have great individual game performances.

Who can forget his 412 yard game against Green Bay? But how often does he really have a great game of 300+ yards? 6 times. 6 games in 58 games started. In comparison, Blaine Gabbert has 3 in 29. Brian Hoyer has 9 in 31. Not exactly QBs that jump out at you as above average QBs. For every great game, there have to be bad games. Let’s put that number at 140 yards or less. Colin has 10 of those types of games in which he started. Hoyer has 4, Gabbert has 12.

According to multiple reports, NFL viewership dropped by 8%, of that 8% that didn’t watch only 3% cited that they weren’t watching directly because of the protests by Colin Kaepernick and others. That number comes out to roughly around 30,000 people per game. Hardly a significant number, and in fact about the same number of people that say they are boycotting the Raiders, Rams, and Chargers if Kaepernick doesn’t get signed to a team. If the outrage is about equal in the number of people boycotting the teams based on the signing of Colin, then it’s not about “Boy, stay in your place” as Richard Sherman states.

In fact, if anyone doesn’t “stay in their place” it’s Richard Sherman. If there’s a more outspoken and vociferous player than Richard Sherman, please let me know, I’ll wait. Plenty of players stood with, so to speak, with and still stand with Colin Kaepernick and his message. Most of them enjoy employment.

Bruce Irvin stood by his message and very few people took issue with it once he started getting sacks. If your play exceeds your implied “distraction,” no one cares because you’re helping lead the team to victories. Winning cures all. Once you start losing, everyone will find a reason why, even if they make it up. I do believe Colin will find a team. However, it’ll have to be a team that’s willing to adapt to his limited skill set.

 

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  • BobOfArslan

    It will also have to be a team who doesn’t really know the definition of “team”. One of the intangibles you forget about is locker room chemistry. He has proven that his own interests and beliefs come before team. I wholeheartedly agree with his position on how there is a defined over reach on people of color by police departments, however I disagree with the way he communicated his message.
    He could have remained in the locker room during the national anthem, and if asked why, said his piece and adding “but I did not want to involve my teammates or teams owners or distract from what this day is all about: 49er football”.
    Instead he did his protest on national television. “Me. Me. Look at me.”
    His actions angered so many people so profusely that they didn’t ever hear what he had to say.
    He was his own worst enemy, by sabotaging his attempt to enlighten people to something close to his heart, he repulsed them away.
    Walk up to the man on the street and ask them what they know of Colin Kaepernick and they will answer “He’s the guy who wouldn’t stand up for the National Anthem”. Ask them why, and they wouldn’t able to give you a hint. His message was lost and he became a pariah.
    And before anyone pulls the race card, if any white 49er would have knelt during the National Anthem and said that it was because he was going to promote his own cause when he got the national media’s attention, he would be in the same predicament Kaepernick finds himself in now.

    • ‘Jesse Martinez Jr’

      I wholeheartedly agree. He does make some good points about police overreach and I do think that is a problem in some cases, but not in all cases. One problem I did have with his actions was when he wore the pig socks and villainized the whole profession. That detracts from his whole message. I support his right to expression but at the same time, the owners also have a right not to sign someone to a contract that detracts from their business.