Colin Kaepernick’s exile from the NFL is dumber than ever

Turns out the Rams’ starting quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t break his thumb on Sunday. That’s great news for the team and a reminder of how thin they are at the position.

Their backup is a four-year vet with twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. The rookie they drafted won’t play this season. Stafford isn’t expected to miss a lot of games, but the injury scare most likely means the team will be adding a veteran quarterback for insurance.

Colin Kaepernick is available … in case anyone forgot.The Rams — the first franchise to integrate the modern NFL and draft the league’s first out gay player — has a history of opening doors for guys who have been excluded. The team should give him a call, because at this point Kaepernick’s exile is beyond stupid.

Since his last game, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has become a pseudo social justice warrior and lobbied to get Meek Mill out of jail. Did the league boot Kaepernick to make a statement in favor of law and order? Or against criminal justice reform? Either way, bring him back.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the former president who put the heat on the NFL because of Kaepernick, has a mugshot and may wind up in jail. Trump represents more of an insult to the nation than Kaepernick ever did.

So what’s really going on here besides ego and political theater? The country where Kaepernick began his protest against police brutality — by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 — is not the country we live in now. A lot has changed. It would be good to see the NFL acknowledge these changes and let Kaepernick compete.

If nothing else, he’s a “risk-free contingency plan” for any team in need of quarterbacks. His words, by the way, not mine. Kaepernick reached out to the New York Jets in a letter in September, after the team lost Aaron Rodgers to a season-ending injury. He offered to join the Jets’ practice squad. They declined, of course. Every team has since 2017, some doing so despite a glaring need.

Teams like the Jets, for instance.

We all know Kaepernick’s absence was never because he lacked merit. He has been kept out for … what? Some weaponized version of patriotism? It never made much sense.Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem certainly wasn’t bucking any time-honored tradition. Up until 2009, players stayed in the locker room during the anthem. That year the Pentagon started paying the NFL to bring players out for patriotic salutes. So Kaepernick wasn’t the one who blurred the lines rather than “sticking to sports.”

I moved to Los Angeles in 2015, the same year the Rams left St. Louis and returned to L.A. At that point the franchise had gone 12 consecutive seasons without a winning record, so I adopted them. As a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, I figured I was already used to the losing.

The following year made it 13 in a row without the Rams finishing with a winning record, but I had some amazing seats for home losses. One of the most memorable defeats came on Christmas Eve.

With 31 seconds left, Kaepernick, then with San Francisco, ran the ball in for the game-winning two-point conversion. No one knew it at the time, but that 22-21 victory would prove to be Kaepernick’s last victory in the NFL.



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