Spike Lee is wrong about Colin Kaepernick… for now

Over the weekend, Capital One spokesman, Reggie Miller antagonist, and filmmaker Spike Lee mused publicly about quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned in a busy NFL free agency period. “How Is It That There Are 32 NFL Teams And Kap Is Still A Free Agent?” Lee wrote in a creatively capitalized post-brunch Instagram post, poetically implying that Kaepernick is considered radioactive for his race and outspoken politics.

He might be right, but it’s too early to say. Right now, NFL teams fall into four broad tiers in terms of quarterbacks:

  1. Teams who have their quarterback for next year, and are content with that person.
  2. Teams that are pretty sure they have a quarterback for next year but have some doubts about injury or effectiveness. An example here might be the Bills, who are still feeling out what they have in Tyrod Taylor, or the Steelers, who are rightly concerned about the getting-up-there Ben Roethlisberger missing a few games.
  3. Teams with a nominal starter who would probably upgrade if they could.
  4. Teams with no clear plan at quarterback. There are really only two teams here, and ironically they are the two who made the biggest offseason trade of a quarterback so far: the Browns and the Texans.

Looking at these groupings, the market gets tough for Kaepernick. He’s only 29 and has a Super Bowl run under his belt; his struggles in the years since that run mean he isn’t a clear upgrade over most established or nominal starters. If you are an NFL general manager, looking for an extra arm to throw in camp or a capable backup, there will be plenty of options as training camp approaches. There’s no need to sign a guy like Kaepernick yet.

The only market for him now are teams looking for a high-upside fallback option who would definitely start the season on the bench. For that reason, it might be in Kaepernick’s better interests to wait. If the Houston Texans can’t get Tony Romo, or the Raiders find Derek Carr isn’t all the way back from injury, or the Vikings’ Sam Bradford gets hurt in minicamp, Kaepernick might find himself in a better situation than becoming the next Browns quarterback whose career gets sacked into oblivion.

On the other hand, as training camps get closer and rosters take shape, someone really ought to sign Kaepernick, baggage and all. If the season kicks off and finds Kaepernick in a Tim Tebow-esque purgatory, we might find that Lee was right all along.

This assumes, of course, that Kaepernick wants to sign. He might find it more amenable to his long term health to use his experience as a social commenter and provocateur to craft a career more in the mold of his pal Spike Lee.

Kids doing stupid things

A University of California Irvine student committee continues to draw outrage – OUTRAGE! – for banning display of the American flag in a student government office.

The ban is silly, and the outrage is sillier still. Twitter users have posted names and pictures of the members of the committee. It’s overkill that only serves to endanger these students and does nothing to help them understand what’s wrong with what they did, or why people were offended. Isn’t college supposed to be about discussing and understanding other people’s views?

There are reasons these students voted the way they did. If you like the flag and think it should be displayed, wouldn’t it be worth a discussion? These students in particular may not be convinced, but understanding their thought process would help the next time you ran across someone with similar views. (Conversely, shouting them down probably doesn’t teach them that America is a welcoming mixing bowl of ideas. Rather, it enforces whatever notions they had of America being a country of ignorant patriotism on steroids.)

Either way, they aren’t doing this in a real-world environment. It’s college. It’s where you are supposed to do stupid things so you can figure out they’re stupid.

One has to wonder the same thing about the University of Oklahoma’s expelled the Sigma Alpha Epsilon cheerleaders. What have these kids learned about race relations? What have others learned about the motivations of a dozen or so men who would chant the n-word on a bus? Expulsion seems lazy, just like forcing the UC Irvine student government to re-hang their lobby flag.

In both cases, you’d like to give the people the benefit of the doubt and assume they just didn’t understand their actions. You might have a conversation with them and realize they meant everything they did; but you might learn they are legitimately contrite and eager to make amends.

After all, it’s college. Everybody’s supposed to learn something.