‘That’s the only reason’: LeBron James says Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed from the NFL

"Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

LeBron James has always been an ardent football fan, and many suspect he’d make a great NFL player himself if he ever decided to switch sports. It seems James would make a good NFL general manager too, if given a chance. That’s because he can see what most actual NFL GMs refuse to — that Colin Kaepernick should absolutely be on an NFL roster right now.

The NBA legend told reporters this week that he thinks the only reason Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster right now is because of his pre-game protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

“The only reason I could say he’s not on a team is because the way he took a knee,” James told ESPN on Sunday.  “That’s the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks — first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks — that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let’s just be honest.”

James added that he knows that the former San Francisco 49er “is getting a wrong doing” because Kaepernick is undeniably more talented than many quarterbacks taking the field every Sunday. While Kaepernick remains at home — working on his fitness, his charity work, and his lawsuit against the NFL for collusion — a swath of less-than-impressive quarterbacks take the field each Sunday, including Tom Savage of the Houston Texans, Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, C.J. Beathard of the San Francisco 49ers, Drew Stanton of the Arizona Cardinals, Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brock Osweiler of the Denver Broncos, and Nathan Peterman of the Buffalo Bills, who threw five interceptions in a single half on the same day James made his comments. Last week, Chuck Modiana of the New York Daily News looked at the second, third, and fourth chances that mediocre (at best) white quarterbacks are often given in the NFL.

In his six NFL seasons, Kaepernick led the 49ers to one Super Bowl and two NFL Championship games. In his career, he has thrown for 72 touchdowns to only 30 interceptions, for 12,271 yards and an 88.9 percent quarterback rating.

“Just watching, [Kaepernick’s] an NFL player. He’s an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him,” James said. “It just feels like he’s been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that.”

While this is the most extensive praise that James has ever offered Kaepernick, he has applauded the quarterback’s protest and activism in the past. Last week, James shared his excitement about Kaepernick being named GQ’s “Citizen of the Year” on social media.

🙏🏾✊🏾👑!!!!!!!!!

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

 

James compared Kaepernick’s actions with some of the greatest civil rights leaders of this century.

“I’ve commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him,” James said. “Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn’t see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature. When it’s something that’s new and it’s something that people are not educated about or don’t understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge, and people are so quick to say that what you’re doing is wrong.”