FLAG ON THE FIELD, PART THREE

Kapernick’s plight began because he failed to observe the governing equation in his universe. That equation compares a player’s on-field value to the trouble he creates. A net positive value can make you a gridiron legend. A net negative likely makes you a footnote in a stat book.

On-field value is measured…on the field. Wins. Stats. Tangibles of that sort. The noteworthy part is that NO ONE remains in the league because of what they do OFF the field. Once you’re no longer contributing more tangibles than those behind you on the depth chart, you’re history. Players can create no tangible value off the field.

But players can easily create trouble that negates their value ON and OFF the field.

Last night we say Richard Sherman acting like a maniac and creating a fight on the field. He’ll probably get fined a negligible amount. Anything more than a one-game suspension is unlikely. Sherman was trending on Twitter because of that, but he was also trending because of his commentary regarding President Trump, saying if you don’t condemn Trump’s action, you condone them. Does Sherman apply that same standard to himself? Unlikely. Sherman recently trended for saying he was better at life than Skip Bayless.

But the net result of all that is minimal, because Sherman is still a productive player.

It’s important to note that Kapernick’s team, the 49ers, has suspended players for offending people with speech off the field. They suspended at least one player for comments about gays…a decade before gay marriage was legal everywhere.

With all these things in consideration, realize that the 49ers were probably trying to determine if Kapernick’s antics regarding police were helpful or hurtful in their community. So Kapernick’s “trouble” potential was being evaluated. His value as a player was also being calculated.

At the end of the season, the 49ers made the decision every team makes about every player’s net value. They determined he was not valuable enough to keep and did not re-sign him.

The offseason generated reasonable questions: If a city like San Francisco doesn’t value Colin enough to hire him…would any others?

We know the answer now: No, they wouldn’t.

Enter Goodell and his desire for absolute control.

The NFL and its media spent an extraordinary amount of attention to Kapernick. While it occasionally took the opportunity to taunt Tim Tebow for his baseball progress, it spent the vast majority of its inactive player attention on Kapernick. In daily updates they shamed the teams for not signing him. One often-repeated headline actually contained the phrase “that’s a shame.”

So any debate about Kapernick’s productivity versus his negatives
is irrational. The 49ers answered it by not re-signing him. Then 31 other teams confirmed that finding.

None of that had to do with Trump. None of the issue with Kapernick’s status has to do with anyone outside the league.

More than anything, this situation that has exploded upon the NFL is the result of Goodell’s autocratic attempts to force teams to do what he wants.

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