Here we are, on the eve of the 2017 NFL season, and Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent.
How absurd is that? Scott Tolzien, who has three touchdowns and seven interceptions in nine career games, is a starting NFL quarterback, but Kaepernick, who has 85 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in 69 career games, is unemployed.
Shouldn’t Kaepernick be on a team?
“Absolutely. That’s not even a question,” two-time Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “To me, it’s obvious. And I’m not saying owners are racist. That ain’t where I’m going with this. The fact that he’s taken the stance that he’s taken brings on baggage, and the question is does his talent – (and) he does have talent, you can’t deny that – but does his talent outweigh the baggage? I would say that’s 95 percent of the issue. This is just a speculation, (but) there’s probably five percent of the issue that some owners don’t agree with his stance – and that’s fair. Just be like, ‘Yo, we don’t agree with his stance. We don’t want that in our locker room. We don’t think it unifies our team.’ Something like that.”
The Kapernick saga reminds Tuck of another high-profile quarterback who became a national obsession.
“I haven’t heard anybody say anything about this or have it used as a comparison, but there was a time when everybody was saying, ‘Tim Tebow is a distraction.’ He still got a job,” Tuck said. “And I love Tim Tebow, by the way. I love what he stands for. Christian guy that has done everything the right way as a man. Forget football. I just like what he stands for as a man.”
Brian Jones wonders if some coaches and general managers don’t want Kaepernick simply because off his outside-the-box skill-set.
“Yeah, it’s difficult,” Tuck said. “He’s not the typical quarterback. He’s not. Obviously it takes a certain offense for him to thrive in. But you can’t tell me that he’s not the 33rd-best quarterback in the league. You tell me he can’t be a backup? That’s what you’re telling me? Obviously I don’t know what his price point is. I don’t know (about his) negotiations. That, I don’t know, so a lot of this is assumptions. I don’t know. But you can’t tell me that there’s not a team that can’t harness his talent. You can’t use that as an argument.”
Tuck also weighed in on the CBA, which expires in 2021 and could result in a work stoppage depending on negotiations, as well as concessions made by the NFL.
“I think the previous CBA was tremendously one-sided, and I do believe the NFLPA has done a great job of unifying the players more than that what we were when we came up,” Tuck said. “There’s a lot of issues that players have voiced some displeasure with. The league is a lot more unified than what it was (before the last strike in 2011). Back then, I don’t think we understood our power as much. I think going forward, just seeing how things turned out as far as what we signed and how it wasn’t in our favor, it made us have some really, really tough conversations in the locker room. It made us have some unifying conversations about what the next time would look like and being a little bit more educated on the process, a little bit more educated on what other leagues had done and how that sacrifice back in the day in baseball or basketball has really, really cultivated what you see in those leagues now.
“The NFL is the most powerful league out there, and the players’ slice of the pie is probably lowest when it comes to that,” Tuck continued. “That’s completely wrong in my book. That being said, I think it has the potential to get really ugly, to be honest with you. I’m hoping that it doesn’t, obviously, because no one wants to see games missed and there be that divide. I think everybody wants at the end of the day to have a unified league and a product that you can put on the field for the fans to enjoy.”
One problem? Roger Goodell’s punishments often seem random and arbitrary.
“There’s no consistency,” Tuck said. “I think it has created a huge divide within the trust of players, owners, fans, and so on and so forth.”