The Carolina Panthers should sign Colin Kaepernick to back up Cam Newton for this upcoming season.
There, I said it.
For many reasons, many of them political, the Panthers front office will never consider doing so, the main reason being Kaepernick's choice to carry out a peaceful protest in which he kneels during the national anthem to spotlight tensions between the police and citizens of color, among other injustices in this country. That simple, peaceful gesture has now made Kaepernick untouchable in the NFL, in a development that says far less about the man and far more about his former employer.
Whether one agrees with Kaepernick's protest or not, one thing remains: He's good enough to be a starter is this league, much less a backup. He threw 16 TD's and 4 interceptions last year. In the NFL, that's generally good enough to get you a contract worth nearly 10 million dollars a year, yet with Kaepernick, it's barely enough to get him his solitary invite, which came from the Seattle Seahawks.
In a recent interview, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said this about Kaepernick. "Obviously, there's the elephant in the room why Kaepernick isn't signed, and most people know why. I've said this several times, and I'm not afraid to say it: I think race and politics in sports is something people don't want to hear about, nor do people want to be a part of."
He later described how he believes the Seahawks' willingness to even call Kaepernick "says a lot about the organization."
So what does that say about an organization that could stand (or kneel) to use a little bit of competition at the backup QB spot, yet won't even pick up the phone to call Kaepernick to at least give him the opportunity to compete for that spot?
While Derek Anderson may be a nice guy, his spot on the Panthers' bench is hardly solidified. While DA did put up a robust 67 percent completion percentage in five games, it came at the price of throwing a paltry two touchdowns to five interceptions. I don't need to break that ratio down for you.
The front office's choice to ignore potential competition for that backup QB spot is franchise malpractice, especially when the team has bolstered its depth at every other position to create a competitive environment in Spartanburg come late July.
Competition is essential when it comes to training camp; it sharpens the edges for football players, and when the Panthers have competitive training camps with multiple players fighting for spots on the team, it tends to reflect itself in the win-loss column later on.
It's important to remember that Kaep was within a single drive of not only having back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, but possessing a Super Bowl ring. That kind of experience and skill is impossible to find in terms of any backup quarterback on the market, and the fact that 31 teams seem to have no interest in that kind of skill level is lunacy.
An excuse some owners are using in ignoring Kaepernick is fan backlash. Giants owner John Mara told reporters last month, "All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about [Kaepernick]. 'If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.' It wasn't one or two letters. It was a lot. It's an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I've run into."
An NFL owner in fear of his own fan base is a paper-thin excuse to hide behind. The NFL dominates TV ratings, generally has waiting lists for PSL's and tickets on a yearly basis and has people watching its watered down product by the millions on Thursday night.
Let's face it, the NFL is like pizza — even when it's bad, we'll still eat it. Moreover, the Carolina Panthers being afraid of its fan base is even more ridiculous considering that because of Cam Newton, the fans here in town are one of the more mixed groups when weighed along racial lines. The addition of Kaepernick would likely be something to help bridge a racial gap between the fans, not divide them.
Another gap for Kaep to bridge for those ready to listen? The one between some Charlotteans and the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department. Kaepernick has said he wants to create a productive dialogue between police and citizens of color. Where better to be a factor in the community than the city than a city where Jonathan Ferrell and Keith Scott went down in the past 5 years?
If the Panthers are going to continually ask money from the community to upgrade Bank of America Stadium, the least they could do is give back to it by signing Colin Kaepernick.