SAVING THE NFL

Here is why – and how  – the Houston Texans should hire Colin Kaepernick.

The take-a-knee movement in football is a tragedy.  If the point is to complain about poor treatment of black people in America, especially poor treatment by the police, that is a fair point, a fair topic for conversation.  But what has that got to do with football – which employs far more blacks than whites and pays them far more than what the vast majority of white Americans are paid?  What does police misconduct have to do with the national anthem and the flag – which are inspirational symbols the vast majority of citizens respect?   Short answer:  nothing.  The anthem/flag platform was chosen because:    (i) it would attract a lot of attention by annoying a lot of people; and thus (ii) it would give the players greater leverage in their battle to achieve improvements in their treatment by their fellow citizens and the police.  So far, the jury is still out on whether the players have helped their cause.

Which brings us to Kaepernick, the leader of the Take-A-Knee movement.  It comes as no shock that the American Left, which includes virtually everyone who reports or comments on sports on TV or radio or in the newspapers (even the Wall Street Journal), argues that Kaepernick should be picked up by an NFL team.  In truth, the lefties would probably prefer a perpetual stalemate where CK does not get hired but remains a prop for the argument that pro sports in America are controlled by racist bigots.

The best venue for the solution to the TAK crisis might prove to be the Houston Texans, now reduced to rubble by season-ending injuries to both the best defensive player in football (J. J. Watt) and arguably the best offensive player in football (rookie Deshaun Watson).  The Texans would  have little to lose by hiring CK, other than the support of their fan base, which would have a cow but would  eventually calm down if the team explained the move properly and  CK actually won the Texans a few games they otherwise would have lost.  Besides, with a 4-year wait-list for season tickets, the team would have no difficulty in replacing people who gave up their seats on principle.  Especially with Watson and Watt coming back, amidst visions of Super Bowls.

So, why not give it a shot?  The media answer:  a moot point.  They won’t, because owner Bob McNair is a billionaire white guy – i.e., a racist bigot.  Isn’t he the guy who referred to the NFL players as “prison inmates.”  Well, no, that is not what he said or meant, though the media have chosen to disregard McNair’s plausible and sensible explanation that his “prison inmate” comment was a slam at Roger Goodell, not at the players.  In fact, McNair has shown, time and time again, that he is totally colorblind regarding both management and players.

So, should McNair OK a CK-hiring?  Sure.  CK is maybe the last of what used to be thought of as the prototype black QB:  great runner, decent arm, limited ability to master the full range of QB responsibilities (reading the defense, checking down to the right receiver, etc.).  In other words, Vince Young.  Could the right coach turn CK into a decent QB?  Well, if anyone could do it, it would be Coach O’Brien, who specializes in getting good football out of bad QBs.  O’Brien has been masterful in handling Deshaun Watson, who combines the best of the white QB model with the best of the black QB model, a blend of Tom Brady and Michael Vick.  CK is no Deshaun Watson, but he is not chopped liver, either.

If handled correctly, the hiring of CK could be a masterstroke, a way to save the NFL, to halt the death spiral, a way to satisfy both the TAK players and their patriotic fan base. Even if CK stunk.  How could McNair do it, assuming his coaches were OK with bringing in CK?  McNair would seek a meeting with CK to discuss race and politics in football, might seize the opportunity to elaborate on the point that being a patriot does not make one a racist.  No one need win the argument, just a fair and frank exchange of views.   McNair, before signing CK, would insist upon CK’s commitment not to take knees or raise fists or link arms or take any other symbolic actions during the anthem while wearing a Texans’ uniform.  Out of uniform, CK, like all the Texans’ players, would be free to say whatever the heck he wanted.  We are happy to have you, we respect your views on race and politics, but on the field, our team, our rules.

The Texans’ fans would reluctantly be OK with it – and would hope that Kaepernick still had some good football in him.  But even if he proved a bust, his hiring, and the terms under which it took place, would defuse the crisis and make McNair and the Texans heroes for saving the game while improving race-relations.  Even if they could not save the Texans’ 2017 season.

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