Here is a link to my column about Colin Kaepernick’s obligations to his teammates. The full text appears below.
Sunday’s New York Times ran an article about Colin Kaepernick’s crummy manners.
It compared lock-jawed Kaepernick to charming and engaging Russell Wilson and said, in the manners category, there is no comparison.
The Times is the newspaper of record in the United States and the world and, as you know, used to own The Press Democrat. And now the newspaper of record went on the record with a description like this: “Kaepernick behaves like a schoolboy banished to the principal’s office. His microphone is where well-intentioned questions go to die.”
The word “schoolboy” is appropriate. Kaepernick acts like a schoolboy around the media, looking down at his sneakers, looking away from reporters, answering in monosyllables, always seeming under interrogation — like some cagey journalist is sticking knife blades under his fingertips to find out where he stashes his playbook or what he feeds his turtle.
He is mostly humorless, defensive and intentionally uninteresting. The last guy on Earth you’d invite for dinner. If he is a media schoolboy, some of his teammates hold doctorates. I am talking about savvy media guys, gracious adults like Vernon Davis, Joe Staley, Anquan Boldin, Donte Whitner, Frank Gore, Jona-than Goodwin and Carlos Rogers (sometimes). The grownups.
In the lamentable category are Michael Crabtree, who is more shy than rude and actually tries to answer questions, and Alex Boone who has gone out of his way to be dismissive, curt and rude to journalists covering the team.
After the 49ers past two games, Kaepernick came to the media room accompanied by teammates — with Boldin and Crabtree after the Rams game, with Boldin after the Seahawks game.
He reminds you of a kindergartner who needs a buddy, a pal, an ally to hold his hand.
Timeout for another quote from the Times: “Kaepernick talks as if restricted by a Twitter-like character count.”
So, what’s wrong with Kaepernick being a social stiff? The Niners are 9-4, they’re almost surely going to the playoffs and, although Kaepernick is not a great quarterback, he certainly is a winner. How he interacts with the media means zilch.
Here are three answers. The first two answers are unimportant, mere preludes to No. 3, the big one.
FIRST ANSWER: Kaepernick is the leader of his team, at least of the offense.
It’s his job to lead on and off the field, and off the field he’s a miserable failure, a juvenile, a terrible representative of the organization.
SECOND ANSWER: Kaepernick is terminally rude, and it’s never smart — or nice — to be rude, especially for no reason, especially to journalists dying to know you and give you every benefit of the doubt.
THIRD ANSWER, THE BIG ONE: By not fulfilling his media duties, by not even trying, Kaepernick is being rude to his teammates, showing them no respect, being an inconsiderate brat to them.
On every team, quarterbacks talk to the media more than any other players. This talking is part of the job, an essential responsibility of the quarterback. Some quarterbacks who understand this heavy responsibility and fulfill it are Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and Tom Brady. In their day, guys who did it were Steve Young, Rich Gannon and Kerry Collins.
Yes, Kerry Collins. I remember him after games during the Raiders’ atrocious 2005 season answering tough questions patiently and politely in the hushed, subdued locker room, taking the burden off his crushed teammates.
And here’s the point. Journalists ask questions. Journalists need answers. When Kaepernick is uncooperative, journalists don’t tell themselves, “Gee, Colin acted like a jerk again. I guess I won’t get an answer.”
That is not how it works. Journalists go to the next guy — say, Staley or Whitner. And they ask their questions.
By not performing his role — by not doing his duty — Kaepernick is dumping that duty on his teammates and friends. By failing in his obligation to the press, he is failing in his obligation to the team. It’s a serious obligation that won’t go away and it means others must perform it for him precisely because he is derelict in his duty.
What I’m saying — I want to be clear about this — is that Kaepernick childishly shifts the burden from himself to Davis and Goodwin and others, takes advantage of their professionalism and goodwill, and adds to their burden — a burden they would not shoulder on teams with grown-up quarterbacks. Kaepernick leaches off them.
He may not mean to be selfish toward his teammates, but he is being selfish — by his neglect of standard protocol and his callous disregard for his teammates’ time and feelings.
He needs to think about this. Or someone in the 49ers organization, like the coach, needs to set him straight.
Time to man up, Colin.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.