Pretty strange, really, that moments after re-establishing himself as a legitimate NFL starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick opted to expose himself as a fraud as a social activist.
Kaepernick had a fine day in rallying his San Francisco 49ers in a 31-24 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday.
He had anything but a fine day at the microphone thereafter.
Inevitably, Kaepernick was asked about his controversial comments last week regarding Fidel Castro, words only a fool would utter in any occasion, let alone a professional athlete scheduled to play in South Florida four days later.
Kaepernick could have taken the coward’s way out, apologizing “if” he offended anyone.
Instead, he managed to stoop even lower. The man who prides himself in standing up against systematic oppression went scampering for the “my comments were taken out of context” crutch. Men do that when they don’t have a leg to stand on.
Kaepernick insisted he had been merely praising Castro’s “investment in education” and “investment in free universal health care” and that it was a “false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did. It’s just not true.”
Monday, I replayed my recording of the conference call in question with the South Florida media, a six-minute discussion that included two very heated final minutes in which Kaepernick was called out by The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, of Cuban ancestry.
Several times, Salguero opened the door for Kaepernick to denounce Castro’s oppression.
Each time, Kaepernick passed.
It started at the very outset of Salguero’s line of questioning and never let up, one disingenuous excuse after another, one irrational rationalization after another.
Salguero: “One of the times that you made that stance about fighting systematic oppression, you wore a Fidel Castro T-shirt after the game. Are you not aware that Fidel Castro is one of the 20th Century’s big oppressors of people?”
Kaepernick: “I wore a Malcolm X shirt.”
Problem was, both Castro and Malcolm X were clearly depicted on the shirt. Kaepernick knew this. You’d think, getting $20 million this year, that if Kaepernick is that strong a supporter of Malcolm X, he could spring for a shirt that didn’t include Fidel Castro.
Each time Salguero pressed the issue, Kaepernick tried to skirt it as if dodging Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake and Kiko Alonso.
Excuse No. 1 was that Malcolm X had an “open mind” in meeting with Castro to learn about other cultures. No. 2 was that he wasn’t talking about Castro, but Malcolm X. When Salguero steered the conversation strictly toward Castro, excuse No. 3 was that Castro invested in education rather than doing as the United States does and investing in prisons. The fact Castro broke up families triggered No. 4 — that the United States also breaks up families with its jails.
You’ll notice that nowhere in this constant probing is there any condemnation of tyranny. There’s only praise.
Which is exactly how I depicted Kaepernick’s comments in a blog that afternoon. As is the case these days, the quotes were repeatedly recycled as people questioned why Kaepernick would say such things. Sunday morning, criticism ratcheted up when Salguero published a column pointing out the pain Castro has caused for so many Cubans that seems to have flown under Mr. Kaepernick’s radar. Predictably, when Kaepernick took the field against the Dolphins that afternoon, he was loudly booed.
When the controversy was brought up in the postgame news conference, Kaepernick said, “It was completely out of context.” With that, Kaepernick was pointing the finger at me, since I wrote the original account of the conference call.
Unlike Kaepernick, I’ll meet an accusation head-on: garbage.
Asked if he could understand the concern of South Floridians, Kaepernick shoved his foot deeper inside his mouth: “I can understand the concern, but for me what I said was that was a historic moment for Malcolm (meeting Castro). I’m not going to cut out pieces of Malcolm’s life.”
But cutting up pieces of Castro’s ideology to suit one’s needs, Kaepernick will gladly do.
Kaepernick became a social lightning rod the moment he stopped standing for the national anthem as a way of fighting systemic oppression in the United States. Many saw it as disrespectful toward the flag and the military.
The conference call began with four questions centering on the 49ers’ poor season before I pointed out that many fans told Sports Illustrated they’re tuning out NFL games over their distaste for his anthem protests. What, I asked, would he say to those people?
“I would say they probably need to look in the mirror at what they value,” he said.
Good advice, Colin.
Why don’t you take it?