By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Colin Kaepernick.
When you read that name, what’d you think? How did you feel? Surely, you felt something, right? At this point, it seems impossible not to.
That’s where we’ve gotten with Colin Kaepernick, and frankly, we all got there a long time ago. Some arrived at their destinations faster than others, but the reality is, there hasn’t been too much movement on the opinion scale since the summer of 2016.
That’s why it’s so utterly perplexing why the NFL decided to stoke the flames of a story that had gone almost completely dormant over the past several years. After seeing the president of the United States revive the protest story once already and thrust it to the forefront of the national discussion, one might think that a multi-billion dollar corporation that’s obsessed with public relations and is run by a man who got his start in the league’s PR department would take note of that crisis and take steps to avoid needlessly creating a firestorm for no real reason.
Alas, this is the NFL, and this is Roger Goodell. So here we are.
Of course, because this latest situation failed to reach destructive levels, because it took place smack dab in the middle of the football season. What was a big story on Saturday got quickly wiped away by the weekly madness that played out on Sunday. Even though the football slate itself was unremarkable, it was nevertheless football. And so the world moved on. Yet again.
But as a longtime observer and infrequent participant in the yearslong Kaepernick discussion, what I found most distressing was just how quickly and easily so many people were to take the NFL at its word on this extraordinarily suspicious “olive branch” being extended by the league.
I was alarmed to find so many people who seemed to have thought, “Hmm, after years of treating him like a criminal, it’s nice to see the folks at the NFL have changed their stance and has decided to do something out of the goodness of their hearts. Very sweet of them.”
I suppose it is because of this ease of convincing that the NFL went about this operation the way that it did. Blindside him with an “opportunity” to work out. Give him no advance notice, and give him two hours to respond. Give some advanced tips to prominent media members, and send out press releases to the world. If he says no, we’ll have our story: HE DOESN’T WANT TO PLAY.
Kaepernick and his people were smart enough to understand that, so they did not immediately refuse the “opportunity.” They said yes, but asked for perhaps a better day. They were denied. They asked to know who might be in attendance. No dice. They asked for media members to be allowed in, to record the session. No, the NFL said. We’ll distribute the video. It will be fine. Trust us. We’re your friends here, Colin.
In the meantime, Colin, we’re going to send out another press release, in which we note how many teams will be represented at your workout. We are so very excited for this opportunity, Colin.
All of that stunk to high heavens, but with precious few days to squabble over the details, the plan was to show up. Or so it seemed.
As we’ve since learned, the NFL required Kaepernick to sign a waiver, wherein he would sign away his rights to ever sue the league again. As Yahoo’s Charles Robinson described it, the waiver was a Trojan Horse. Suddenly, the whole odd mess made sense.
Kaepernick’s lawyer has since said that it would have been “malpractice” to allow Kaepernick to sign his name on that waiver, so Kaepernick did what someone who wants to at least give the impression that he wants to play in the NFL would do. He went through a workout, and media members were invited.
In what was a telling sign, only seven teams had representatives who actually showed up to the workout. The NFL had said that 24 teams would be in attendance. The lack of effort or willingness or ability or whatever for over 70 percent of those scouts to make the hour-long drive to actually see the workout says all that needed to be said about teams’ actual interest in seeing if Kaepernick can play.
Now, the Kaepernick story is sure to live on. For how long, I know not. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how to feel about Kaepernick. He hasn’t been perfect over the past three years … but he’s also done a whole lot of good. His abilities have been badly misrepresented by fans and media since 2016 (he wasn’t an MVP but he was somewhere in the range of being the 15th or 20th best quarterback in the league, and thus his abilities more than warranted NFL employment). And his initial message in the first place, well, it’s pretty worthwhile.
Nevertheless, thoughts and opinions and feelings and attitudes on Kaepernick remain mixed. Understood. This is America, after all.
But here’s where things really go haywire for me: Regardless of how you feel about Kaepernick, are you really going to believe the $100 billion corporation, run by billionaires and operated by men who have proven to be dishonest in their dealings time and time again?
Have you never seen a movie? The billionaire — you know, the one with the wispy mustache, and the private jet, and the maniacal laugh, and the plot to seize and destroy all that is good? He is not to be trusted!
Feel however you’d like about Kaepernick. I probably can’t change your mind there. But the NFL? Leave aside your feelings for the sport itself, and focus on the league. If you take anything the league says about anything at face value, it’s time for you to reevaluate.
Now, let’s help add to the NFL’s bottom line by hyping up this week’s slate of football games. (Man, being addicted to the sport of football really puts a sports guy in a pickle, doesn’t it?)
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
Indianapolis (+3.5) over HOUSTON
The Colts are the embodiment of what a so-so football team looks like. The Texans have some more severe spikes. As such, who knows? Just be thankful that somehow, against all odds, we all get to see a Thursday Night Football game in Week 12 with first place on the line. Thursday night games have come a long way since the days of the urine scale.
— nick (@nick_pants) November 20, 2015
Man, I miss those days.
CLEVELAND (-11) over Miami
Look at the Dolphins, going on a little run. It’s adorable!
It does defy logic though. The Dolphins have gradually lost more and more talent as the year has gone on, yet after getting outscored 238-77 from Weeks 1-8, they’ve since gone 2-1. Very nice.
Alas, that’s not lasting — not even against a Browns team that will be taking the field for the first time since Myles Garrett went full Thor on Mason Rudolph.
Denver (+4) over BUFFALO
I do not appreciate the Broncos deciding to randomly be competitive all of a sudden. There are precious few things we actually *know* about this league. The Broncos being terrible was one you could bank on. Now they’re mucking up the waters. It’s preposterous.
I’m taking the points here, because both defenses are good, and both offenses are bad, and the Bills have played by far the easiest schedule in the NFL this year, and the Broncos have broken my brain.
Pittsburgh (-7) over CINCINNATI
Mason Rudolph has exactly one good game under his belt. It came against the Bengals. Considering I know literally not one single thing about Zac Taylor outside of the spelling of his name … I feel confident saying he hasn’t spent the past two months devising a plan to figure out … Mason Rudolph.
CHICAGO (-7) over New York Giants
Imagine if you were some sort of offensive guru/mastermind, and yet your team ranked 28th in points and 30th in yards.
The Bears are a mess, but the Giants stopped being competitive a long time ago. They’ve lost six straight. Saquon Barkley ran for one yard on 13 carries in a real game. The head coach is a wooden figure from “Thomas The Tank Engine.”
Giants are bad.
Oakland (-3) over NEW YORK JETS
I hate that I have to sit here and be like, “Yeah, Jon Gruden’s team is going to travel across the country and win a game they’re supposed to win, in order to stay in contention for a division crown, here in late November.” Absolutely hate it. The Raiders/Gruden circus was much more fun when they were a joke. I do not like this one bit.
It’s almost as bad as the night that I was stewing in some room inside the Cardinals’ stadium, resigned to the fact that I was going to have to refer to Pete Carroll as a “two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach” for the rest of my days. That was a tough few minutes. Thank goodness for Malcolm Butler.
NEW ORLEANS (-9.5) over Carolina
I am so rip-roaring mad at the Panthers. For the first half of the year, I wrote every week about how badly they stunk. They kept rubbing it in my face by being decent. I finally flipped and gave them some credit; they’ve since gone 1-3, getting absolutely smoked in two of those losses, the most recent of which came at the hands of the ATLANTA FALCONS.
Thanks for nothing, Carolina Panthers. Truly.
Seattle (+2) over PHILADLEPHIA
I’d take the Eagles in this game if they were healthy offensively. But … they are not. Football is rough.
Tampa Bay (+4.5) over ATLANTA
Take a hike with this Atlanta-as-a-favorite thing. Go for a walk, would you?
Granted, Jameis Winston does have 18 interceptions this year, which is the same number of interceptions thrown by Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz and Tom Brady combined. (That is so amazing.) And yeah, the Bucs are the Bucs.
But the Falcons as favorites? In this economy? No thank you.
Detroit (-3.5) over WASHINGTON
I’m going to be honest with you. That video of Dwayne Haskins “talking” on the sideline to his O-line was tough to watch. I can’t even share it. That was … that was rough.
TENNESSEE (-3) over Jacksonville
I saw an amazing quote this week. Do you want to see it, too? It’s from Doug Marrone, who is, you know, like, in charge of the Jaguars. The head coach. The head honcho. The big boss man.
Here’s what Marrone said about the team only giving Leonard Fournette eight carries last week in a loss to Indianapolis.
“That was my mistake. That was a big mistake by me,” Marrone said. “I thought we needed to score points in a quicker fashion.”
Dallas (+7) over NEW ENGLAND
Taking Jason Garrett, on the road, against Bill Belichick? Are you lost in BANANA LAND?
Yes. But that has nothing to do with my picks, thank you very much.
I recognize the risk here. It’s very possible that the Cowboys completely and utterly beef this one, just like they did on the road against the Jets. The football world may be laughing and pointing at Jason Garrett come 6:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. I get it.
But the Cowboys have a top-10 defense, and the Patriots have an offense that is currently stuck in the mud. I do think they’ll figure things out offensively at some point, but I don’t think this will be the week for it.
Dallas will score some. New England will score a few more. Something in the ballpark of 16-10 sounds just about right.
Green Bay (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
The San Francisco 49ers are faaaaading a little bit. Heavy lies the crown, you know?
And with this game, followed by a trip to Baltimore, followed by a trip to New Orleans, with a home game vs. the Rams and a trip to Seattle for Week 17 all on the schedule? This team will be on fumes come January. You heard it here first, folks.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (+3) over Baltimore
While I’m fascinated by the idea of Lamar Jackson in that mysterious darkness of the L.A. Coliseum, and while I utterly detest watching Jared Goff play football, sometimes you’ve got to go against your instincts. Sometimes the bad isn’t as bad as it may seem, and sometimes runs that are too good to be true turn out to be slightly less than true.
It will be interesting to see how the Rams’ defense handles the league’s top-scoring offense. The Rams have allowed an average of 11 points per game over their last four contests, so if Sean McVay can maybe spend his extra day of preparation to draw up some fancy dipsy-doo nonsense for us all to enjoy, maybe we’ll get to see a nice football game.
As for the picks, you might have noticed I’m still doing them. By now, I would hope you’ve come to that realization. Last week, I went head-to-head against my 5-year old daughter, and I’m here to report that I went 8-6, and she went 5-9. I don’t know how to feel about that, other than to be embarrassed that I had to resort to such tactics. So I’m back, for at least another week. If this week goes poorly, I may have to enlist the 2-year-old for some healthy competition next week.
Last week: 8-6