We are now entering week 10 of the NFL season and the lines on the field have been drawn.
I'm not talking about line which distinguish the good teams from the bad. I'm referring to the line which separates reality from falsehood, a line which has literally placed football fans on extreme sides of a much heated debate involving sports, politics and social injustice.
It has raged on ever since Colin Kaepernick took a knee last year during the national anthem to protest social injustice against people of color. A year later, Kap is unemployed due to a blackballing culture instigated by NFL owners and ignorant claims made by people such as Donald Trump, who spread false narratives to camouflage the true purpose behind the message promoted by Kap and those who have taken up his movement.
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This has escalated into a situation where fans have boycotted the NFL and refrained from watching it, either in support of Kap or in support of the dishonest narrative thrust upon players that they are disrespecting the flag, veterans and the country by supporting him.
But this isn't new. It's covered every week by every outlet and now advertisers are paying close attention, some addressing their concerns to broadcasters that covering the protests against social injustice could lead to them pulling out of NFL ad deals.
Lost in all of this is the basic fact that the quarterback play this season has many times been horrendous, and instead of addressing this situation with a real solution, egos have prevailed, further contributing to the mess that we continue to witness each week, and solidifying the belief that blackballing Colin Kaepernick is more important than winning.
The Texans looked like they could make some serious noise this season, even with JJ Watt being lost to injury, as Deshaun Watson was making doubters, especially the Bears and Browns, into believers each week. Through seven games, Watson had amassed an impressive stat line of almost 1,700 yards passing with 19 TDs and 8 interceptions while also rushing for 269 yards and 2 more scores.
Then injury robbed us all of watching his amazing development and success, forcing everyone to painfully experience the predictable performance of backup Tom Savage, who stepped up under center for the team and promptly led them to a loss against a poor Colts defense, ending the game with three straight goal line incompletions and a game ending fumble.
Tom Savage doing Tom Savage things with the chance to win the game. https://t.co/dgL8jIhgvD
You would think that the Texans would want to move in the right direction and sign a true QB who can could contribute immediately. Nope. This afternoon they announced the signing of Josh Johnson, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2013. He played in 29 games, throwing for 1,042 yards, five TDs and 10 ints. Just to compare, Kap has a career stat line consisting of 12,271 yards passing with 72 TDs and 30 interceptions. He's also rushed for 2,300 yards and 13 TDs.
Ironically, last week Texans' Coach Bill O'Brien, when asked about possibly signing Kaepernick, told reporters:
Colin Kaepernick’s a good football player, hasn’t played football in a while,” said O'Brien. “But these things are discussed daily and they’ll continue to be discussed.”
Guess they forgot to have that discussion before signing a player that hasn't stepped on an NFL field in four years.
The #Texans submit the following transactions:
But the Texans, whose owner Bob McNair made racially insensitive comments a few weeks ago, are not alone in their defiance of signing Kaepernick at the expense of winning.
Denver, once again, gave their fans Brock Osweiler, a player who at this point needs to stop being signed by teams looking for a veteran backup. Baltimore is another Joe Flacco injury away from joining the Browns at the bottom of the AFC North and the Cleveland Browns are so clueless about the QB position that they couldn't trade for one properly.
This is disheartening and agonizing for fans, but imagine what great defenses like the Texas and Broncos must be feeling with the many interceptions, incompletions and three-and-outs they have to watch on the sidelines. Vonn Miller and Aqib Talib barely had a moment to catch their breath before Brock Osweiler "welcomed" them back on to the field because of his apparent mandatory interception clause.
Brock Osweiler throwing in triple coverage was a bold strategy, Cotton, and it didn't pay off. #DENvsPHI
It's amazing that in sports, where winning is the ultimate goal, that egos would blind those in charge from making the right decision. They would rather blackball a player who has done nothing illegal and who has contributed positively both on and off the field rather than give him the opportunity to showcase his proven skills. Skills which are sorely needed by more than a few teams right now.
At this point, the excuses about not having familiarity with the playbook or not expressing the desire to play hold no weight. None. When you sign players who have barely thrown an NFL pass, or who haven't played in a season, you're sending an obvious message to everyone watching, including players on your own team.
If winning is the goal, then you need to go out and get a winner. If you're looking for interceptions, fumbles and more bad QB play, then by all means give Osweiler, Savage, Matt Moore and Ryan Mallett long-term extensions.
But if you're looking to win, or to give yourself a good shot at winning, give Kap a call. And if you're afraid of the backlash, remember this simple fact.
In sports, right or wrong, winning cures all.