Borges: If Colin Kaepernick wants to play in NFL again, he better learn that sooner or later ‘you’re gonna have to serve somebody’
I’m not convinced many professional athletes should be taking career advice from Michael Vick, but he had a point Monday when it came to Colin Kaepernick and it wasn’t that he could use a new barber.
In essence, Vick suggested it might be wise for the unemployed Kaepernick to “just try to be presentable.” Vick was referring to Kaepernick’s considerable Afro but there was a larger point to be made there that Kaepernick wasted no time making clear he doesn’t get.
It’s one that applies to all employees and all employers. Simply put, if you want a job it might be wise not to regularly announce to potential employers that you’re a potential pain in the butt in matters both big and small.
Many employers can accept, at least to a degree, the big issue pain but not on every issue. This is especially true if at the same time your production begins to slide off a cliff, as has happened with Kaepernick.
Not long after Vick’s comments on FS1’s “Speak For Yourself,” Kaepernick couldn’t resist tweeting out the definition of the Stockholm Syndrome. Frankly, in a place with the conservative worldview of the NFL, he might as well have lit his hair on fire even though there may not be 10 coaches or GMs who could tell you where Stockholm is let alone what the Stockholm Syndrome is.
What they can tell you though, is what they consider a pain in the butt, and Kaepernick’s response was a good example of it.
“The Stockholm Syndrome appears when an abused victim develops a kind of respect and empathy towards their abuser,” Kaepernick tweeted. “It was named after a bank robbery in Stockholm when a group of bank employees were held hostage and developed a strong sense of empathy towards their captors. When this traumatic event was over, they even defended their captors by not wanting to say anything that might endanger their captors’ freedom. This usually happens because the victim sees the smallest act of decent behavior as an extracted event which makes them see their captors as essentially good. This way they leave aside all the negative behavioral distinctions of their captors and focus on the positive ones. This syndrome is also called “traumatic bonding” or “victim brainwashing.”
You want someone who reacts to Vick’s tactless but innocent advice like that in your lunch room?
Vick’s poorly voiced point was once expressed far more eloquently by the great singer/songwriter Bob Dylan on his album “Slow Train Coming.” In “Gotta Serve Somebody,” Dylan told it like it is for all of us earthlings.
“You may be a state trooper, you might be a young turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
You can kneel down during the national anthem, wear your hair as you like or even murder fighting dogs, as Vick did. You can be as outspoken, outrageous or out of line as you want. Just understand there are consequences to pay and they grow as your performance slackens.
If Kaepernick played the last two years the way he did in 2013 and 2014, the 49ers wouldn’t care what he did during the national anthem or how politically active he is becoming. They wouldn’t care that he’s conjured up his inner Oscar Gamble, wears more tattoos than a biker gang and at times irks conservative teammates or coaches with his views. They may not like it but that’s not the same as caring about it.
For a time, no one cared what Vick was doing either but eventually he got busted abusing dogs, lied about it to both the cops and his boss (everybody’s got to serve somebody) and paid a stiff price. He went to federal prison for 21 months, lost millions of dollars once owed him by the Falcons and was never again the explosive player he’d once been, but did continue to be the inaccurate thrower he’d always been.
Yet somehow Vick lasted seven years in the NFL after he came out of jail, including three as a starter who went a pedestrian 20-20 for the Eagles. He was no longer the player he’d been but somehow he kept a job. How?
He became someone who did just what he’s urging Kaepernick to do. He accepted that if you want to continue playing in a league that really doesn’t need anybody all that much for very long, you “gotta serve somebody.”
Vick admitted he’d been given much the same advice when he was a young player and didn’t listen “until the end, until I was going through the turmoil and the hardships.
“I just think perception and image is everything. I’m just going off my personal experiences. Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field. This has to be a start for him. .?.?. It’s not about selling out.”
The truth is Colin Kaepernick is not the 97th best available quarterback in America, which he would have to be to not have a job in the NFL. He is better than that. Maybe better than half the quarterbacks in pro football. But he’s also someone who has gone 3-16 as a starter the past two years and has not shown signs for three years that he’s the player who once led the 49ers to the Super Bowl with explosive runs and occasionally startling throws.
What he’s shown is what he also was even when he was winning, which is a guy who isn’t very accurate (59.8 career completion percentage when the mid-60s has become the norm) in a league that demands accuracy. When you couple slipping performance with rising controversial political activism you have a guy many teams conclude is more trouble than he’s worth. Not collude but conclude.
Is he being boycotted? Probably not. Is he better than Brian Hoyer in San Francisco or whoever in Cleveland or with the Jets? Perhaps, but not lately and lately is all that counts in the NFL. Lately and never forgetting everybody’s got to serve somebody .?.?. especially when your game begins to slip.