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It’s Time to Let Colin Kaepernick Play Again …

The man's had enough time to reflect; let's see if he can still play at 31.

He’s become the biggest pariah in the NFL – maybe in all of professional sports.

In the case of Colin Kaepernick, is it of his own doing? Or are societal mores to blame?

We all know the story, and presumably, we all – or most of us – have picked which side we’re on when it comes to Kaepernick and his viewpoint(s).

There are conspiracy theorists on both sides of the argument who say he’s doing it for publicity, for social justice, or for the money he’s losing by not having a job in the NFL.

There are social justice advocates on both sides of the political spectrum, this isn’t anything new. However, we live in an era where viewpoints are vilified, people labeled as ‘racist’ if their viewpoint doesn’t jibe with another’s. 

There’s nothing wrong with Colin Kaepernick expressing how he feels today, no matter in what era or what family he grew up with. Let him be a social justice figure for his community and fan base.

Not everyone is a cookie cutter of their mom and pop.

If it’s the latter, who can blame him for taking Nike’s money. Call him an enterpreneur who’s simply found a way, his way, to take care of his financial needs.

But why isolate the man from playing a sport he loves, a sport he might still be able to lend talents to?

Why has John Elway chosen Brock Osweiler (twice), Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Case Keenum, and Joe Flacco and not given Kaepernick the respect or decency of a workout, even a call?

I guess he enjoys going 13-26 since 2017. Pride is a mother, isn’t it?

I mean, the Broncos had their chance when San Francisco traded up to draft Kap out of the University of Nevada-Reno back in 2011. Three draft picks Denver received for their 36th pick. Maybe still smarting over that. Pride again? 

It’s okay to admit you’re wrong, learn from it, and move forward.

Ten thousand-plus yards, 58 percent completion rate and 82 touchdowns while in college was enough to impress the 49ers.

Never mind the 69 games through six seasons with the Niners, in which Kaepernick threw for 12,271 yards, 72 passing TDs, 13 rushing, and had San Fran in the playoff picture in 2012 and 2013. He was 4-2 in playoff games over those two years.

Those who become inflamed by the question I just asked about Kap’s freeze out from the league will ask the same of Tim Tebow being ostracized for his strong, Christian beliefs, so I understand both sides of the issue. I was just as surprised when Tebow got the treatment he did.

He got a couple of shots – with the Broncos, with the Jets – he just wasn’t the guy he was at the University of Florida. He’s taken a different path, gotten married, and is not hurting financially, I’m certain.

But Kap? He’s knocked on all 32 doors and hasn’t even gotten so much as a sniff from any of the teams in the NFL.

Locked out.

Jacksonville lost Nick Foles and I thought that was a great opportunity for Colin Kaepernick to get at least a call. Nothing.

Drew Brees’ injury led to the re-emergence of Teddy Bridgewater instead of bringing Kap in to toss a few balls around in New Orleans. Great for Teddy – who didn’t play at all as a New York Jet, but crap for Kap.

Sam Darnold’s bout with mono led to Siemian, which led to Siemian’s broken ankle. No Kap.

We’ve seen Ben Roethlisberger go down, Mason Randolph get walloped in the Pittsburgh locker room; yet no opportunity for Kap to become the next Kordell Stewart.

Patrick Mahomes blew a kneecap last night, but I’m sure ‘kneecap’ doesn’t translate to ‘Need Kap’ for Andy Reid. Not when Matt Moore stepped in and sealed a 30-6 blowout in Denver. Think Kap could have helped the Broncos more than Joe Flaccid?

And Good God, are you really going to sit there and tell me that Colin Kaepernick couldn’t inject a little life, enthusiasm, athleticism, and excitement into the Cincinnati Bengals?

Colin Kaepernick donates 100 suits to former prisoners/Courtesy of USA Today online

Few rarely mention the things he has done from a philanthropic standpoint, like buying blazers and clothing for people to be able to dress nice for job interviews they might not otherwise be considered even let in the door without Kap’s efforts and donations.

It’s always about the kneeling.

I get it, to a degree.

I’m a patriotic guy. Did it sting when this first began? A little.

But I’m also a believer in this country being founded on freedom of expression, which includes his right to protest silently (which he did) inasmuch as Chris Jackson/Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf did in his playing days in the NBA.

There was little made of his decision not to honor the anthem, flag or pledge any allegiance to our country’s noted traditions.

And it didn’t make him any less of a patriot in my eyes.

I understand that the NFL, hell all of the major sports leagues, have rules of conduct and aesthetics to maintain decorum as well as appease their fan base.

And I get it – he’s 31, not exactly in his prime; but Tom Brady is 42, so with a good offensive line …

Give him a chance. Allow him to blow it or succeed. 

I understand the settlement with the NFL, but Eric Reid was a part of that and he is playing again. So should Kap.

Remember, this is the same NFL that has given Richie Incognito new life, second chances, four times now. (Then again, maybe Incognito and the Oakland Raiders are one in the same in their mental instabilities).

Someone needs to give Ray Rice the ball again, especially since Tyreek Hill is still playing and getting paid.

It’s time to take the boot off of Pete Rose’s neck and let the man into the Hall of Fame while he’s still alive, to enjoy the honor. Posthumous doesn’t mean (chocolate pudding emoji).

And, damn it, let Colin Kaepernick play football again.

Not in the CFL. Not the XFL. Not the defunct AAF nor the Lingerie League.

The NFL – National Football League.

Not Nullified for Life.

Tracy Graven is a Senior Analyst for BackSportsPage.com. He has written the NBA for the last two decades and is tackling the NFL, NCAA, and pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage. He’s spent time in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City. He currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife and five children. Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia

***Watch for my daily NBA column, The Rundown w/T-Money, beginning October 23, 2019***

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