What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
There was a time when I was a huge fan of Deadspin. That was when it was fresh and offered honest perspectives. But those days are gone; what was once a great independent blog has now become just another sludge-pump offering cherry-picked and warped pseudo-facts in order to advance an idea which is 100% uncut, prime USDA bullshit. I once had a great deal of respect for Drew Magary, but then he fell victim to what I call “Michael Moore” syndrome. While I may not agree politically with Moore, I could appreciate the humor in his work. But then he committed the cardinal sin of comedy; he started taking himself too seriously.
As I breakdown Magary’s assessment of the Colin Kaepernick story, I’m afraid the same thing has happened to a guy I once thought was a pretty damn good writer. Magary is taking up the moth-eaten banner than Kaepernick is being “black-balled” from the NFL because of his political beliefs. Magary’s argument seems to hold water until you actually pour water on it; then it dissolves faster than an Alka-Seltzer dropped into battery acid.
See for yourself.
This week, the Seahawks signed Austin Davis to back up Russell Wilson. I don’t need to tell you that Austin Davis is a shitty quarterback. He didn’t play a single snap in 2016, and in 2015 he started two games for Cleveland and promptly committed five turnovers. In terms of statistics, physical attributes, and professional accomplishments, Austin Davis is indisputably worse at quarterbacking than Colin Kaepernick, with whom the Seahawks briefly flirted and who passed for a respectable 4:1 TD:INT ratio last season on one of the NFL’s worst teams, doing so despite the supposed weight-loss issues that are still brought up when discussing Kap’s inability to get a job.
Like all examples of twisting reality to suit your agenda, Magary starts with something which is undeniably true. Nobody being intellectually honest will ever tell you Austin Davis isn’t hot, salty dogshit as an NFL quarterback. But the twisting comes as Magary tries to get you believe that Colin Kaepernick doesn’t suck. The easiest way to do that is quote carefully selected “statistics.” If you know this blog, you know I take a dim view of people who rely heavily on statistics to support an argument because there’s only two kinds of “stat quoters”…those who don’t watch the games or those who don’t understand what they’re watching. That butt-log about a touchdown-to-interceptions ratio reeks of “guy who doesn’t understand football.”
Sure, Kaepernick threw 16 TDs against only 4 picks, but that’s not the whole story. Only two quarterbacks who started more than 12 games in 2016 tossed fewer TD’s than Kaepernick; Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler. So for me to buy Magary’s argument, he’s got to sell me the idea Kaepernick is a better quarterback than those two.
For the sake of argument, let’s say I’m swiping my card on that idea; it’s at least plausible. But I’d also offer that the interception as a statistic is rapidly becoming to football what the strikeout is becoming to baseball. Nothing good comes from either one, but if you produce otherwise, they can be largely overlooked. It pains me to say as a “fundamentals” guy when it comes to sports, but I can’t deny it. Look at it this way…if a 16-4 ratio is supposed to mean Kaepernick is a good quarterback, then what does Philip Rivers’ 33-21 mark mean? That’s over twice as many scores, but five times the turnovers. Who is taking Kaepernick over Rivers? (Insert cricket noise here).
Before you try to tell me it isn’t fair to compare Kaepernick to a guy some consider a top-flight NFL quarterback, let’s not forget two things. Five years ago, Kaepernick was supposed to be a rising star, and subsequent to that, the 49ers paid him as if he were in the upper-echelon of NFL talent. Plus, Pete Carroll seems to think Kaepernick still has it.
Now, when Pete Carroll was asked about Kaepernick, he did his characteristic gushing, because that’s what Pete Carroll does. Pete Carroll acts like a human Labrador in public and like Frank Underwood when the cameras go off. So of course he declared that Kaepernick was good enough to be a starting quarterback, causing a great deal of confusion among pundits who openly wondered why a team wouldn’t want an extra starting-caliber quarterback on its roster. But it’s clear to me that Carroll was either lying (i.e. he doesn’t really think Kap is a starting-caliber quarterback), or committed the sin of omission (i.e. he thinks Kap is talented but not worth the fuss, and he hopes some other team decides to make him their problem).
Nice try Mags, but speaking of omissions…you left out option number #3; during the so-called “flirtation” between the Seahawks and Kaepernick, perhaps Carroll and the Seattle brass saw something they didn’t like, and maybe they didn’t bother telling all us armchair GMs so as not to pound the final nail in the guy’s coffin. That is also at least plausible, but I can tell this is about the time you will start setting the table to reject any counter-argument.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter either way.
There it is…the locomotive in any argument headed down the “it doesn’t matter what you think” track. Next stop…vitriol and name-calling.
All that matters is that Seattle, despite being one of the more progressive franchises in football, decided that Austin fucking Davis was a better fit for them than a guy who once was a few botched playcalls away from winning the Super Bowl, a game in which his offense racked up 468 yards despite Colin Kaepernick starting out the season as a—you guessed it—backup QB.
This where the train starts coming off the tracks. Not only do we have another mention of meaningless statistics, but it comes in a reference which is genuinely flawed. Am I the only one who noticed the 49ers got dominated for a majority of that game, and that most of Kaepernick’s numbers in that game were in a vain attempt to play catch-up? Even if you don’t want to buy that, am
I the only one noticing that an argument for why Colin Kaepernick should be in the league today is based off a data point from five years ago?
You can go look at the original post where Magary posts screen-shots of the tweets with the list he’s going to rail about…suffice it to say they’re all middlin’-to-shitty, but that’s the common condition of an NFL back-up quarterback. If they were any good, they wouldn’t be back-ups as quarterback-thirsty as this league is. Keep that in mind as you continue.
Look at some of those names. Matt Moore and Chad Henne are a combined 100 years old. Houston just gave away a second-rounder to be rid of Brock Osweiler, who got some Schefter polish on his nuts this morning nevertheless. And Ryan Mallett? Ryan fucking Mallett? Fuck you, Andy. Go sit on a fucking pineapple, kid. Of course, when people yelled at Benoit about the supreme ridiculousness of this list, he spewed a bunch of boilerplate Hoge-isms, as if his assertiveness would alchemize his garbage takes into fact.
What is this guy so pissed-off about? What the fuck does he care about Colin Kaepernick’s career? To put it simply, he doesn’t. Kaepernick and his wobbly political stand are just an excuse for left-leaners like Magary to yell about something because they need to spend at least the next four years pissed off they lost an election. The best way to do that is yet again trotting out the shop-worn race card. Trust me…it’s coming. But first, there’s more discrediting of his detractors because Magary doesn’t really have a credible counter-argument. That’s about to become crystal-clear.
This fits with the rest of the league’s behavior toward Kaepernick over the offseason. You already know that NFL teams have already gone out of their way to employ a string of horrendous quarterbacks while Kap has been left out on the curb with his dick in his hand. Josh McCown—who was somehow WORSE statistically for Cleveland last year than Austin Davis was the year prior—is currently entrenched as the Jets’ starting quarterback. And you already know how many writers out there are willing to push out excuse after excuse as to why Kaepernick has been shunned. Just today, the MMQB’s Andy Benoit put on his best Albert Breer mask and tweeted out this:
Again, you can go back to Magary’s original post to see the tweet; here’s the text of it: “Kaepernick is more talented than maybe all of those backups, but he’s not a better QB. Those are two related, but separate, things.”
I’ll admit at first that seems like a non-sequitur. But it makes sense once you understand the idea that talent doesn’t always equal performance. We all went to school with that one person who was nerd-level smart but never gave a shit about anything, so instead of discovering the cure for cancer they ended up as a shift leader at Sprawl-Mart. He can discuss Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle with the high-school math geek earning college money pushing shopping carts, but at the end of the night he goes home to his one-bedroom apartment, his cat, and whatever bullshit he watches on Netflix. The human condition is a monument to unrealized potential; talent without ambition is the definition of “what might have been.” There really isn’t a better description of Colin Kaepernick.
Shocking as it may seem, that possibility doesn’t fit Magary’s narrative, so here come the ad hominem attacks and the not-so-subtle accusation of racism.
Benoit is clearly an idiot, but what’s dismaying here is that his idiocy is in lockstep with the rest of the NFL. Coverage like this exists to reinforce the dopey values that the NFL already holds dear. The insiders who talk to access merchants have lots of reason to go on about nuance in the pocket and unread reads and generally make throwing a ball seem like a task on par with flying a fighter jet, and the access merchants have lots of reason to take them seriously. The execs and coaches get to posture like they’re generals; the writers get to posture like they’ve seen into the hidden and ineffable complexities of the sport, which the average fan could never see with their own eyes. All of these people have incentive to talk about how Kap just doesn’t get the subtleties of the game like they do.
First, the only reason Margary has to call Benoit an idiot is because they disagree. That’s one of the biggest problems we have in this country; what once used to be civil debate is now just yelling and name-calling. Second, let’s talk about who doesn’t understand the “subtleties of the game.” To this point, this whole argument has been a bunch of junk “statistics” wrapped in a lot of bluster. Honestly, this “Kaepernick is better than a list of ham sandwiches” really doesn’t make a case that Kaepernick doesn’t suck; it only tries to get you to believe he doesn’t suck as bad as some others. Which turd smells worse…a solid brown one or a runny green one? That’s hardly compelling.
But most importantly, anytime you see a guy like Magary use the term “dismaying,” he’s about to make some specious claim for the moral high ground. In other words, here comes the “race card.”
You can see this dynamic in Benoit’s followup post, where instead of doing anything to actually back his assertions about how a bunch of shitty QBs are better than Kap, he claims that 90 percent of the league agrees with his take that Kaepernick is not a proper pocket passer, a bit of racially-coded language that had its varnish stripped away years and years ago. (The man Kap hoped to back up, Russell Wilson, is not a traditional pocket passer and still does quite nicely for himself.)
Now it’s officially a race issue. That’s important because to lib-tards, that means the “debate” stops and there’s no questioning the conclusion. Except there’s one problem. It’s guys like Margary and the intellectually-bereft sports media in this country who are keeping that noise alive along racial lines. A black quarterback can’t be a “pocket-passer,” and every one of them gets automatically compared to another black quarterback. In recent memory, I recall the incessant comparisons of then-rookie Cam Newton to Michael Vick simply because they were both “athletic quarterbacks.” Forget the fact that Newton is twice the size of Vick; one black quarterback is just like another.
Jameis Winston got the same treatment. Winston was endlessly compared to veteran Cam Newton, which was laughable because Winston will never…REPEAT NEVER…have 500 rushing yards in a season because he’s actually much better as a “pocket passer.” Conversely, these guys never talk about how Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger extend plays all the fucking time by using their “athleticism.”
Despite that, Magary would have you believe it is the NFL who are a bunch of racists…but the coup de grace has yet to come.
NFL teams may scheme relentlessly against one another and claim to have their own best practices, but deep down, they are all a sadly uncreative lot, and easily influenced by what other teams are doing. Just last month, Giants owner and spineless tit John Mara said his team got more angry calls about potentially signing Kaepernick than they did about any other issue, which is weird because a) this is the team that re-signed Josh Brown after a horrifying DV incident, and b) why on Earth should any team give a FUCK what fans think when making vital personnel moves? I can guarantee, though, that the Giants are hardly alone in turtling away from Kap, whose greatest sin was openly decrying institutional racism in America, out of fear. (By the way, the Giants opted to sign Geno Smith, who has more INTs in 33 games than Kap has in 69. In today’s NFL, apparently you’re better off just throwing the ball to the other team as long as you stay in the cherished pocket.)
I’m not here to make the statistical argument for Kaepernick, and I’m not here to make the moral argument for him either. I’m just here to say that I give up, and that any valid argument made on his behalf is a waste of time when presented to a league that has already decided to wash its hands of him. You may as well be arguing with a fucking wall.
Magary’s conclusion is so much chin-drool; again you can go read it for yourself. I just love the fact Margary decries the predetermined judgement of the NFL, yet he does the exact same thing to serve his point. He paints the NFL in the broad strokes of racism using a writer who is almost as much of a hack as he is as his brush. Sure, I could jump on the fact Margary says he’s not here to make a “statistical” argument while quoting numbers at least three times. I’ve already made the point that arguing Kaepernick’s value against a collection of ham sandwiches is an exercise in futlilty. Anybody being intellectually honest grasps the concept that questionable player personnel decisions by franchises like the Browns and Jets are likely more about decades-long traditions of pure incompetence and little else. Even a mud-brain like Mel Kiper, Jr. figured that out.
That last point assumes not signing Kaepernick was a bad move; it’s says a lot that even a bunch of fumble-fucks like the Browns and Jets got this right. It’s crystal-clear that Colin Kaepernick likely ended his career last season, but not for his “take a knee” bullshit. His career ended in a game in Chicago where he showed the world what may very well be the worst performance by a starting quarterback EVER. The bottom line is at that moment, every GM in the NFL knew this guy would be available at the end of the season, and said “Are we really interested in a guy who lost his job to Blaine Gabbert TWICE?”
We all know what the unanimous answer was.
Of course, Magary wants you to believe this is all about racism and politics, but it’s soooooo easy to see how full of shit he is. Even if you don’t want to buy my theory why nobody wants this guy, here’s four more which are at the very least far more plausible than Magary’s belief the NFL is just shy of being a Klan rally.
A great way to make NFL teams nervous about your health is to lose 25 pounds on a new vegan diet while recovering from injuries to your knee, thumb and non-throwing shoulder. Surgeries combined with the weight loss raise concern, fair or not, if Kaepernick can still take the punishment incurred by his playing style.
2) Degradation of Ability
Take the injuries I just mentioned and add them to a guy whose taken five year’s worth of pounding in this league. If you know anything about football and you’ve been watching, you don’t need an NFL scout to tell you Kaepernick is a few steps slower than he used to be, and his arm strength is a fraction of what it once was. That was on obvious display during the debacle in Chicago, and only works against him from here on out. After all, he’s already past the average length of a career for an NFL quarterback.
3) Degradation of Performance
The “stat quoters” will have you believe that Kaepernick is still a “C” student in terms of being an NFL starter. They base that on 12 games in which he posted 2,241 passing yards, a 59.2 percent completion rate, 16 touchdown passes against four interceptions and a 90.7 quarterback rating. You already know what I think about the “stat quoters,” so I’ll put it this way. I have no idea what quarterback rating even means, so I dismiss that out of hand. I’ve already addressed that touchdown-to-interception thing. Passing yards don’t mean much in a league where pass defense is essentially illegal. The completion rate is the respectable number, even if Kaepernick lives and dies on high-percentage throws designed for him not to fuck up too badly.
The bottom line is Kaepernick is a guy who has been in steady decline since his peak in 2013; a trend not helped by a string of injuries dating back to 2015. To be fair, he’s also been part of a train-wreck of an organization, and I firmly believe his decline and the departure of Jim Harbaugh are not just a coincidence. But to be even more fair, he’s been a sinking ship all his own.
This is the proverbial “elephant” in the room. There simply aren’t very many guys in this league who make the move from starter to back-up. Not many guys are willing to trade penthouse money for outhouse money; the NFL salary cap dictates most back-up quarterbacks make a slim fraction of what starters get. Not to mention, these guys have agents who aren’t interested is salary cuts, and don’t forget there’s a player’s union with a vested interest in player’s getting the highest contracts possible. The fact is Kaepernick opted out of a contract that would have paid him $14.5 million in base salary in 2017 and was reported to be seeking $9 million to $10 million in base salary from any new club.
That makes Kaepernick dramatically overpriced for a back-up, and bargain basement for a starter. Let’s look at the back-up scenario first. As it stands right now (depending on who becomes a starter and a back-up in places with a current state of flux) Philadelphia’s Nick Foles is the league’s highest-priced back-up at $5.5 million. Foles actually makes a solid comparison with Kaepernick in the sense that they both had about five years in the league bouncing between bench and starter and both had a glimpse of potential greatness at one point. The difference is Foles’ career arc plateaued when he struggled as the starter in St. Louis. Kaepernick’s is clearly in decline for reasons I’ve already mentioned.
What it comes down to is Kaepernick comes with too big of a price tag to be a back-up, and nobody is in a hurry to sink money into a starter in decline even if he’s a bargain. The reasons for that are also quite simple…you can quote all the stats you want, the fact is Kaepernick doesn’t pass the “eyeball” test anymore. It’s pretty hard to deny his skill set has suffered from all his injury troubles, which may also be a factor in the obvious change in his mechanical fundamentals. He just doesn’t run or throw anymore like the Super Bowl quarterback of five years ago. There’s no future in Kaepernick, and that’s what teams want to believe in from their multi-million dollar starter; that he’s the future. NFL general managers already know spending money on quarterbacks is a tremendous gamble; there’s simply no reason for them to bet on a guy who already has the odds against him.
On a final note, before you come to me with a comment telling me I’m wrong, you’ll need to tell me why you aren’t blowing up the internet wanting your team to sign Colin Kaepernick. I’ll be waiting…