If Kaepernick Were As Good As These 5 Controversial Players, He Would Have a Job in The NFLBy Cory Alexander Haywood
During a recent Fox Sports telecast, former All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis (more on him later) divulged that he and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti privately discussed the prospect of signing Kaepernick.
However, the discussion was terminated after they discovered themselves portrayed in a disrespectful meme created by Kaepernick’s attention-seeking girlfriend.
This piece of news is just another chapter in Kaepernick’s ongoing football drama that began with him kneeling as the national anthem was played before games last season.
While his supporters continue to argue that Kaepernick’s ousting from the league is primarily due to race – that a good old boy’s network atop the NFL refuses to accept recalcitrant behavior from one of its black players – there’s ample evidence that proves the contrary.
In fact, historically, the NFL has been one of the most forgiving sports organizations in existence.
Dozens of firestarters and troublemakers have been given second (and third) chances to compete at the highest level – but they all have something in common that Kaepernick hasn’t demonstrated in quite a while – productivity.
To be frank, Kaepernick’s bi-racial heritage has nothing to do with his inability to land another job in the NFL.
There’s no denying that his decision to kneel during the anthem has ruffled numerous feathers in high places across the NFL.
But if his play on the field resulted in deep postseason runs and increased ticket sales, Kaepernick could literally get away with murder and still find work at the professional level.
And before you say “there aren’t 65 quarterbacks in the league better than Kaepernick,” remember that hardly any of these guys come with extra baggage (or ludicrous financial demands).
These are problems that NFL owners won’t entertain from average players like Kaepernick (Yes, I said average). His ability doesn’t merit special treatment. If the opposite was true, he’d be with a new team.
Here’s a list of 5 controversial (black) players who were simply too good for teams to pass up:
1. Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens)
Following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta on January 31, 2000, a fight broke out between Lewis and his companions and another group of people, resulting in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were questioned by Atlanta police, and 11 days later the three men were indicted on murder and aggravated-assault charges.
The white suit Lewis was wearing the night of the killings has never been found. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard alleged the blood-stained suit was dumped in a garbage bin outside a fast food restaurant. A knife found at the scene did not have any fingerprints or DNA.
Lewis subsequently testified that Oakley and Sweeting had bought knives earlier in Super Bowl week from a Sports Authority where Lewis had been signing autographs.[Baker’s blood was found inside of Lewis’s limousine. Oakley and Sweeting were acquitted of the charges in June 2000. No other suspects have ever been arrested for the incident.
The following year, Lewis was named Super Bowl XXXV MVP. However, the signature phrase “I’m going to Disney World!” was given instead to quarterback Trent Dilfer. He was fined a paltry $250,000 by the NFL.
2. Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, etc.)
In August 2007, hours after Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting investigation, the NFL suspended him indefinitely without pay for violating its player conduct policy.
In a letter to Vick, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the quarterback had admitted to conduct that was “not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible.”
While Vick was technically a first-time offender under the league’s personal conduct policy, Goodell handed down a harsher suspension because Vick admitted he provided most of the money for the gambling side of the dog fighting operation.
Goodell left open the possibility of reinstating Vick depending on how he cooperated with federal and state authorities.
Goodell had barred Vick from reporting to training camp while the league conducted its own investigation into the matter. At his July 26 arraignment, the terms of his bail barred him from leaving Virginia before the trial.
After his release from prison, Vick was mentored by former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. The prospect of his return to professional football was the subject of much conjecture as his suspension and incarceration continued.
In 2007, ESPN’s John Clayton said few general managers were in a strong enough position to consider taking a chance on Vick, and even then most NFL owners would be concerned about a fan and media backlash.
Vick signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on August 13, 2009. The contract was worth $1.6 million, with no money guaranteed.
3. Adam “Pacman” Jones (Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, etc.)
Do I really have to explain this one?
4. Lawrence Taylor (New York Giants)
In contrast to his success on the football field, Taylor’s personal life has been marred by drug usage and controversy. When Taylor was once asked what he could do that no outside linebacker could, his answer was, “Drink”.
However, alcohol abuse was not the largest of his substance abuse problems. After admitting to and testing positive for cocaine in 1987, he was suspended from football for 30 days in 1988 after failing a second drug test.
After his second positive test he gave up drugs for five years as a third positive test would have ended his career. As he approached retirement, however, he looked forward to picking up the habit again, saying in his second autobiography, “I saw blow as the only bright spot in my future.”
After his retirement, he began abusing drugs on a regular basis. He went through drug rehab twice in 1995, only to later be arrested twice over a three-year span for attempting to buy cocaine from undercover police officers.
During this period, he lived almost exclusively in his home with white sheets covering his windows and only associated with other drug users. Taylor later said, “I had gotten really bad. I mean my place was almost like a crack house.”
In his second autobiography, Taylor admitted that he had begun using drugs as early as his rookie season in the NFL. He has also stated that his first wife, Linda, mother to his three children, once had to come pick him up from a crack house during his playing career.
5. Plaxico Burress (New York Giants, New York Jets, etc.)
On November 28, 2008, Burress suffered an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound to his right thigh at the nightclub LQ on Lexington Avenue in New York City when his Glock pistol in the pocket of his black-colored jeans began sliding down his leg; apparently in reaching for his gun, he inadvertently pressed the trigger, causing the gun to fire.
The Manhattan District Attorney stated Burress was wearing jeans. The injury was not life-threatening and Burress was released from an area hospital the next afternoon. Two days later, Burress turned himself in to police to face charges of criminal possession of a handgun.
It was later discovered that New York City police learned about the incident only after seeing it on television and were not called by New York-Presbyterian Hospital as required by law. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the hospital actions an “outrage” and stated that they are a “chargeable offense”.
Bloomberg also urged that Burress be prosecuted to the fullest extent, saying that any punishment short of the minimum 3½ years for unlawful carrying of a handgun would be “a mockery of the law.” Burress had an expired concealed carry license from Florida, but no New York license.
On August 20, 2009, Burress accepted a plea deal that would put him in prison for two years with an additional two years of supervised release. On June 6, 2011, Burress was released from a protective custody unit of the Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, having served 20 months.