Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Pete Rose, Colin Kaepernick, and 18 Games

By Anthony Brancato

In 1989, when Pete Rose agreed to his lifetime ban from baseball, he was said to have done so as a compromise. When it was disclosed that baseball's part of the bargain was that it would cease its investigation of him, it was widely speculated that continued investigation would have revealed that Rose bet against the Reds while managing them, which could have led to mail fraud, wire fraud, and sports bribery charges carrying long federal and/or state prison time.

Of course, this hasn't stopped Rose from trying to get himself reinstated in violation of the agreement — a necessary prerequisite for getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, for which he would naturally receive an unanimous "yes" vote.

Nearly three decades later, Colin Kaepernick thought that he was the victim of a de-facto lifetime ban from the NFL, arising out of his repeated desecrations of the national anthem, something scores of millions of Americans, especially those who hail from the demographic groups who buy the lion's share of the season tickets, including NFL Sunday Ticket — whites over 50 and earning over $100,000 a year, and even more so, whites over 65 and earning over $250,000 a year — consider seditious.

This prompted Kaepernick to sue the NFL for collusion — a term that has become extremely popular over the past 18 months or so. Ultimately, the NFL reached a "confidential settlement" with Kaepernick, under which Kaepernick would withdraw his lawsuit — and, presumably, not seek further employment in the NFL.

Yet now, all of a sudden, out comes Kaepernick with this workout video, accompanied by a whine that he has been "denied work for 889 days" — this on the heels of his catastrophic blunder characterizing the Betsy Ross flag as "racist" when Betsy Ross was a Quaker, and therefore a staunch abolitionist.

Guess when two men sign an agreement and then seal it with a handshake, it doesn't mean what it used to mean. This is obvious with both Rose and Kaepernick.

And the fallout from Kaepernick's meretricious video is that every time a quarterback gets injured, Kaepernick's name will come up as to who the team should sign — as it has in Philadelphia on account of the fractured (albeit non-throwing) wrist suffered by backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld in the 27-10 loss to the Titans by the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday.

Besides the predictable "We Want Kap" chants coming out of Philly, Sudfeld's injury has brought equally predictable chants — the first one coming from Jon Marks of Forbes magazine less than 24 hours after Sudfeld suffered the injury — for taking two games from the "Don't Count" column — the exhibition; oops, I mean preseason — and transferring them to the "Do Count" column — the regular season, giving the NFL the same schedule pattern the CFL has had, and without complaints from anyone, since 1986 (a second bye week for each team would presumably come with the deal).

And if the 17th and 18th games are made to be interconference games awarded on a division-finish basis — first vs. first, second vs. second, third vs, third, and fourth vs. fourth — the schedule will be fairer: In five of the last nine seasons, a last-place team held or shared the toughest schedule in the league, based on the records of the previous season. Adding two more last-place teams to these teams' schedules would make their task not quite so hopeless, and is likely to lead to less turnover among head coaches.

Who wants to see players break their bones, tear their ACLs, or suffer any of a number of other gruesome injuries, in games that don't even count, when the league doesn't have to? And why should the NFLPA defend this by opposing 18 games?

As for Colin Kaepernick, he needs to go away. He and Pete Rose deserve each other.

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