A lot — a lot — has changed since Jan. 1, 2017.
Barack Obama was still president (former President Donald Trump would be inaugurated on Jan. 20), Tom Brady was still a lifelong New England Patriot, the top movie in the country was a “Star Wars” film, and the top song in the country was “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars.
Oh, and nobody had ever even heard of “COVID-19” back then, which is truly jarring to think about.
Jan. 1, 2017, was also the last time that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last took a meaningful snap in the NFL when he put up an unimpressive 215 yards, one touchdown, and two fumbles in a 23-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks that day — capping off an ignominious season that saw Kaepernick’s record fall to 1-10 on the season after the Seahawks loss.
Given how long ago and how unimpressive Kaepernick seemed the last time he was an NFL player of any note, nobody would blame NFL fans for forgetting he exists in 2023.
But NFL fans simply aren’t being allowed to forget about a man whose career record is two games below .500 — and last played two presidential administrations ago — because swathes of the establishment media are still propping the man, the myth and the martyr up.
That establishment includes sports apparel conglomerate Nike, which recently revealed a new “capsule collection” of apparel based on Kaepernick.
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“I wake up in the morning, and I have a deep conviction and belief in us— and what we can do, and that’s what motivates me to get up and do my part in bringing this to life,” Kaepernick is quoted as saying in the Friday social media post.
The post added: “Colin Kaepernick’s belief in our collective strength fuels his dedication to helping to create a fairer future. In his new capsule collection designed by the artist @joyyamusangie, each unique symbol is designed to tell his story of impact, to share his sources of strength, and to inspire you as well.”
Just in case you’ve been blessed enough to forget about Kaepernick, all that talk about “story of impact” and “sources of strength” and attempts to “inspire you” all stem from the one thing that the former quarterback is best known for: Not slinging the football, but kneeling during the national anthem as some misguided form of protest.
During that final 2016-2017 season, Kaepernick began sitting and then eventually kneeling for the anthem, and claimed that it was to bring attention to criminal justice reform.
While that’s an uncomfortable conversation worth having, nobody wanted to have it with Kaepernick because he was beginning the discourse with abject disrespect — a poor way to begin any conversation, let alone a difficult one.
Of course, Kaepernick took things further from there, accusing the league of being racist and blackballing him from playing (when in reality, no team wants a backup quarterback with this much baggage), while also plummeting further and further into sanctimonious self-victimization.
In a normal world, Kaepernick would’ve been written off years ago as a sour grapes has-been who can’t let go of the limelight.
In the real world, Kaepernick is lionized for failing at everything he tries to do (does he have a Super Bowl ring? Has he ended racism?) and continues to elicit fervent support.
As to the apparel itself, this writer readily admits that his fashion personally peaked with t-shirts and jorts, but whatever you may think of these designs, it’s hard not to look at an $80 sweater and think to yourself, “So… how does this make the world a better place?”
Naturally, this all asks: Why is Nike so insistent on working with a washed-up nobody when there are so many more relevant athletes that, you know, are actually playing?
In short, it’s to score cheap and easy intersectionality points.
“Sure, our shoes are probably made in a Chinese sweat factory, but have you seen how much we support Black Lives Matter?”
And frankly, for both Kaepernick and Nike, it works out for both of them that the New York Jets rebuffed Kaepernick’s groveling attempt to play for them this year.
Because there’s just no way that Kaepernick is going to be an effective quarterback nearly seven years after last suiting up — and both he and Nike know this.
If Kaepernick plays and struggles, that’s it. His gravy train is over and his perpetual victim status revoked.
To paraphrase an old adage, “Tis better for people to think you’re a bad backup quarterback, rather than to suit up and remove all doubt.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.