The Dallas Cowboys are having one of the most unfortunate seasons in their long history. They sit, as this is being written, at 2-5. Statistically, they have a defense that is, cumulatively, in dead last in the NFL. They allow the most yards on the ground, sixth-most yards in the air, have forced the least turnovers, and given up the second-most points. Offensively, they are much closer to league average… but have been significantly worse since seeing Dak Prescott go down against the division rival New York Giants. Even with all of that, they sit a half a game behind the 2-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, and the winner of the division will get to host a playoff game.
We’ve seen the 7-9 Seahawks win their playoff game in a similar situation in 2010, so it’s not inconceivable that Dallas does turn this around. Owner, President, and General Manager Jerry Jones has invested a lot into this season. America’s Team is spending over $179 million this year and (after factoring out “dead money”) the Cowboys have about $6 million left. What fix is there for that cheap in the NFL world? Jerry Jones’ ball club is in trouble. America’s Team needs a savior… And there aren’t a lot of Captain Americas out there.
But what about Kap-tain America?
Last November, Colin Kaepernick worked out for NFL coaches and scouts. While the NFL (seemingly intentionally) bungled the process, all reports indicated he made all the necessary throws. At Charles Drew High School in Georgia, Kaepernick threw for over 30 minutes before talking to scouts. He intentionally pushed the pocket on roll out passes, forced the ball deep to show off his arm strength, and consistently hit his band of misfit receivers in stride.
Kap’s best throw of the night, without question pic.twitter.com/WtsgumqPrH— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) November 16, 2019
In 2016, Kaepernick sparked controversy when he sat during the national anthem during a preseason game as a way to protest the racial injustice in this country. In the coming days, he spoke with former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawk Nate Boyer about respectfully abstaining from the anthem, and Boyer suggested an active kneel instead of a passive sit. The following week, and the rest of the season, Kaepernick elected to take a knee. He has not suited up for an NFL game since that season.
The next year, President Trump condemned those who kneeled for the anthem. Trump argued the owners should fire players who kneeled. Jones himself commented that any player for the Dallas Cowboys that “disrespects the flag won’t play.” Jerry and his players kneeled before the anthem played before a Week 3 game in 2017, and that was the only compromise he has made.
Kaepernick filed legal suit against the NFL, arguing he was being blackballed for using his free speech, in 2017. The workout in the fall of 2019 seemed to be the NFL’s way to settle the dispute.
Last spring, reports were that Kaepernick was demanding more money than the XFL was willing to offer… but he did not completely rule playing again off of the table.
In the summer that followed, many were surprised to hear the NFL pull a 180 on Kaepernick’s stances. Roger Goodell commended Kaepernick, and the league has taken on some initiatives that indicate they stand on more similar ground with regards to social justice than ever before. Off the field, the NFL appears ready for a Kaepernick return.
On the field, the move makes a ton of sense. Kaepernick is a healthy quarterback who hasn’t taken an NFL hit in almost four calendar years. His arm is still in good shape, and he demonstrated he is mobile enough to work around a porous offensive line in Dallas. He can do a lot of the same zone read and run-pass-option concepts that Dallas aimed to do with Dak Prescott this year.
Further, the Dallas Cowboys’ skill positions are all primed to win now. Jerry Jones has invested a lot of money into the wideouts and Ezekiel Elliot, and their primes are happening as we speak. Can Jones really throw away money by paying them for a year with a third-string quarterback from James Madison University?
Where this move makes the most sense, however, is in the headlines it draws. In the last 25 years of his tenure, Jones has made one thing abundantly clear: the Dallas Cowboys are America’s team because America can’t stop talking about them, not because they’re some victorious representation of the stars and stripes. As the league currently stands, does anyone want to talk about the Cowboys? The stories about the losses will only carry so much content. Dak’s injury had a full day of ESPN coverage, but the likelihood of Cowboys injury news dominating headlines seems grim. What better way would there be to drum up conversation about the Cowboys?
Kaepernick’s signing would bring more eyeballs to AT&T Stadium than can legally fit inside during a pandemic. Every game, dozens of news cameras would be focused on Kaepernick before, during, and after the national anthem. Every throw would be scrutinized to the nth degree. With the kind of offensive numbers Dak Prescott was putting up before his injury, it’s clear that a mobile quarterback with a good deep ball can do well in the Dallas Cowboys’ offense. Why can’t Kaepernick?
And if he can’t, the story is still about Dallas. There is no way to lose here for Jerry “talk about my Cowboys on national news” Jones. As for Kap?
If he ever wanted the national spotlight on he and his message, there are no lights bigger than those in Jerry World. The white and blue uniforms, grey pants, and Cowboy’s Star is the uniform of the Monday morning talk show. Kaepernick would have an unprecedented platform for an activist of his nature. If it didn’t go well, it’s the Cowboys. Things haven’t gone well for them in 25 years.
And if it went well this year? He could choose between playing a number of places next year for even more money, or riding into the dust with a big “I told you so” on the butt of the horse he rode in on.
Jerry- You’ve circled round and round this long enough. Don’t give up the draft capital for Fitzpatrick. You’ve already won two games too many to “tank for Trevor,” so that’s out of the question. Do the right thing, go get America’s team Kaptain America.