The start of the 2017 NFL season is just around the corner and quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed. And there’s no indication that any team is interested in signing the controversial player.
Some say Kaepernick has been blackballed by NFL teams after he protested the national anthem last season by kneeling when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before games. The protest was very controversial and drew lots of anger from loyal NFL fans. Kaepernick said he was protesting to bring attention to police brutality in the U.S.
But former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick said Monday that Kaepernick’s unemployment in the league isn’t due to his protest, but his recent performance on the field.
"It has nothing to do with him being blackballed,” Vick told sports commentator Jason Whitlock, according to NBC Sports.
"The gesture that he made last year when he took the stand to do what he did, listen, we all appreciated it, we respected it, and it was a good thing. I really think the stand that he took has nothing to do with him not having a job playing in the National Football League right now,” Vick explained.
Vick said that Kaepernick’s past two seasons on the field were subpar compared to previous seasons, including the year Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013.
"And being frank, Colin didn’t have the best two years his last two seasons. It wasn’t as productive as what we’ve seen him do,” Vick said.
Vick knows a thing or two about being an unwanted player in the NFL.
In the early part of his career, Vick was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks the league had ever seen. But Vick’s stardom was quickly upended when he was convicted on federal dog fighting charges in 2007. Vick served 18 months in prison for financing a dog fighting ring.
Upon his release from prison in 2009, Vick was a very unpopular NFL prospect, so any team willing to sign him faced the possibility of severe pushback from the media and fans. Despite that, his talent and past performance led to a resurrected career with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2009 to 2013.
During his interview, Vick also offered Kaepernick one piece of advice: Cut the afro.
"First thing we've got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. Listen, I'm not up here to try to be politically correct. Even if he puts cornrows in there, I don't think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle,” Vick said. "Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You're already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable.
"I just think perception and image is everything. This is not the Colin Kaepernick that we've known since he entered the National Football League. I'm just going off my personal experiences. Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field. This has to be a start for him,” Vick explained.
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) July 17, 2017