VERO BEACH, FLORIDA – MAS comes today to neither bury nor praise San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Or even take a moderate stance regarding his recent controversial actions.
Rather, MAS is here to offer this prediction: For however little it may be worth in the larger scheme of things, Kaepernick has just committed career suicide.
If you’ve been marooned on a desert island or Mars a la Matt Damon the last two weeks and have just returned, MAS is referring to Kaepernick’s decision to not stand for the U.S. national anthem before games to protest what he calls “police brutality” and “oppression of African-Americans and people of color” in America.
His protest has infuriated many in the U.S. who feel it was ill-advised.
Before MAS explains why Kaep (pronounced cap), however well-meaning, is making a disaster of a career decision, let it be known that MAS DOES have a strong opinion regarding Kaepernick’s choice of anthem action.
But MAS also likes his job.
So, with the PC Gestapo lurking everywhere, ready to pounce and twist meanings, he’ll just keep it to himself.
MAS is not stupid.
Besides, opinions are like armpits; everybody’s got a couple.
And some of them stink.
By now, so many people have weighed in on the issue, MAS’ grain of opinion sand will hardly be missed on what is now Kaepernick Beach.
You, the reader, are probably saying, thank goodness MAS has spared us and isn’t setting himself up as a one-man opinion supreme court like so many scribes and pundits before him.
The anthem sit-down or kneel-down (the technique varies) is for you as an individual to take as you see it.
That’s your right.
What MAS WILL opine on, though, is Kaepernick’s timing — solely career impact-wise — in coming out as a dissenter.
Strictly in terms of him being an NFL performer, he couldn’t have picked a worse time to make his stand.
Even before it all came down, Colin, at 28, had already reached an early career crossroads as a player.
After a 2012 season in which Kaepernick led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and established himself as a new age runner-passer, things began to unravel for him.
Last season, Kaepernick suffered a spate of injuries that may or may not have been the cause of his lackluster performance, including a torn labrum that eventually landed him on injured reserve.
Colin wasn’t saying.
What IS known is that his production dropped off dramatically.
Plus, he developed a penchant for making knuckleheaded throws. In one game, he threw a pair of pick-sixes (interception returns for a touchdown) on successive plays.
Same play, same interceptor. Even worse, each time an offensive receiver was not in the immediate area.
MAS wondered, what on earth is wrong with this guy?
He doesn’t look like the same confident, poised performer of a year earlier.
Instead, Kaepernick looked confused and unsure of himself.
Many onlookers hypothesized he missed the micromanaging presence of his former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who had moved on to the University of Michigan.
Eventually, Kaepernick would lose his starting job to his backup, Blaine Gabbert, a former flop of a No. 1 pick in Jacksonville.
This past offseason, though, San Fran fired its coach of one year, overmatched rookie Jim Tomsula, and hired ex-Philadelphia head man Chip Kelly.
Wow, MAS thought to himself, Kaep at QB and Chipster’s spread option attack were a match made in offensive heaven.
A perfect redemption situation, if there ever was one.
But after the coaching change, the Niners seemed strangely lukewarm toward Kapernick.
Was it because of his three offseason operations (shoulder, knee, thumb) or was he not the future of the game after all?
Maybe even that his attitude was changing?
Whatever the reason, initially there was some speculation the Niners would just cut Kaep loose and eat his $11.7 million guaranteed for this season.
For Kaepernick, though, no problem if they did. Any number of teams would gladly take a chance on him given his past success.
Hadn’t the Denver Broncos courted him this past winter?
But wisely realizing Kaep’s vast potential in Kelly’s offense, the Niners brought Colin back this campaign. Only to see him injure muscles in his back, limiting Kaepernick to just 13 plays in his first three preseason games.
Hardly the type of performance he needed to win back his job.
Then all hell broke loose with Kapernick’s failure to stand for the anthem in the third and fourth preseason games.
And Kaepernick’s already tenuous situation with the 49ers became a doubly dubious one.
Reports have surfaced that 49ers management, even as it was backing Kaep’s First Amendment rights, were wondering if an under-performing, injury-prone, high-salaried QB was worth keeping — protest aside.
Some supposed insiders say the Niners pondered cutting Kaepernick and saying it was strictly performance-based.
However, it was recently announced he has made the squad as the backup QB.
But for how long?
No matter what the Niners company line is, it is likely they are still very concerned that the situation could become a distraction that hangs over the team like a huge chemistry cloud.
Can they function normally under it?
To be determined.
Also, the NFL, Niners and any other league teams realize how much Kapernick has offended a large segment of their paying fan base.
And no league is more image-conscious than the NFL.
A recovering Kaepernick trying to regain his physical potential is one thing. But are the Niners or any other ball club also willing to live with the anthem alienation aspect as well?
What has happened these last two weeks will likely end up serving as a tipping point that eventually causes Colin’s career to grind to a halt, a run that might otherwise have continued.
Some are comparing Kaepernick to Muhammad Ali, who overcame his own Vietnam War controversy to get back on top.
But boxing is an individual sport, not a team and league operation.
Plus, Ali still had most of his skills when he made a successful comeback.
Does MAS think Kaep, too, will overcome all of these factors working against him and follow suit?
Put it this way, Colin Kaepernick had better invest his contract-guaranteed money wisely.
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