How the least popular QB move still might be Houston Texans' best chance
After nearly six years of effectively being banned from the NFL for his social and political stance (actually kneeling), Colin Kaepernick finally got a legit tryout with the Las Vegas Raiders recently. He threw bullets. Now suddenly there is interest in Kaepernick. Reportedly two more NFL teams would like his agent’s phone number.
The Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings are mentioned as possible suitors in need of a quarterback.
Of course it’d be a longshot gamble signing Kaepernick. He’s 34 years old and hasn’t thrown an NFL pass in anger since 2016. Those are difficult numbers to get beyond. But the biggest risk for a team would be public relations – how would its fans react to signing a player that the president of the United States called a “son of a bitch” for kneeling during the national anthem.
Kaepernick took a knee for the anthem in 2016 to protest police actions against people of color. Critics interpreted his kneeling as disrespectful of the flag and U.S. military. By the end of the 2016 season, Kaepernick was toxic, unable to find a job in the NFL.
Six years is proving to be a long time ago. Incidents have happened. The world of sports has changed. People think differently. The manager of the San Francisco Giants, in response to gun violence in America, now refuses to be on the field during the national anthem – and there’s hardly a peep.
Still, how would fans react to an NFL team signing Kaepernick? Would fans villainize the owner? Would fans stop coming to games?
That’s why the Houston Texans are precisely the right team to step up and sign Colin Kaepernick.
Would fans villainize the owner? Already done. Would fans stop coming to games? Already done. When attendance at NRG Stadium for Texans games is announced at 68,000 it has fans wondering “are we in Orlando?” Because that’s where Fantasyland is.
The team is coming off back-to-back seasons with four wins and a recent history of multiple coaching changes, new team president, new general manager, an executive v.p. who’s despised by fans for his TV preacher bullcrap, exiling popular players for little in return, and a gifted quarterback accused of serial sexual misconduct who’s now gone for pennies on his talent.
The Texans are making changes hoping to regain its fans’ faith. The current general manager seems to know his business. The new team president is well-liked and respected. There is reborn spirit in office morale.
The Texans need Kaepernick. We have a second-year quarterback who could gain from Kaepernick’s experience and willingness to take a backup role.
And if Davis Mills falters, you just wait for fans to start shouting Kaepernick’s name. Nothing would get Houston talking more about the Texans than a good old-fashioned quarterback controversy.
Yes he’s been out of the game for nearly six seasons, but let’s not forget that Kaepernick is one hell of a dedicated physical specimen. In college, he was the first Division 1 quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards and run for 4,000 yards. In the NFL, he started all 16 games and led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013. Over his career, from 2011-2016, in 58 starts he threw 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He has a winning career record. In his last season, starting about half the games, he threw 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He’s 6 ft. 4 and has stayed in shape.
Did you know that he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs after his senior year of high school? In 2013, seven years removed from baseball, he threw out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game and fired an 87 mph fastball right over the plate.
He wasn’t banished from the NFL because of his skill. He was a political exile and perhaps it’s time to get past his past. Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, Jane Fonda and others, once despised for their beliefs, now embraced as beloved icons.
Who do the Texans have backing up Mills? Kevin Hogan, “the Gunslinger,” has started one game since entering the league in 2016. He hasn’t appeared in a game since 2017. He has a career mark of four touchdowns and seven completions to the other team. Kyle Allen has a career 7-10 record as a starter with 24 TDs and 17 interceptions. Jeff Driskel is listed as a quarterback on the Texans’ current roster but really isn’t.
I don’t care if Kaepernick spent the last six years eating cheeseburgers and getting fat on the couch watching TV (he hasn’t). You think he couldn’t beat out those other backups?
Above anything else, Houston fans are Texans in their soul – we love winning. It's been a while. Signing Kaepernick gives us the best, at least better, chance of getting there.