The Alliance of American Football was built as an avenue for professional football players to get back on the field and earn an opportunity in the NFL. All active AAF players — 80 percent of which spent time in an NFL training camp last year — earn $225,000 over three years. If they do not land a job in the National Football League, they must return to the AAF the next season. It’s an upstart league, so not much money is just laying around. Someone apparently forgot to mention that to Colin Kaepernick.
According to the Associated Press, The Alliance reached out to Kaepernick about joining the new football league for its inaugural season. In response, Kaepernick told the league he wanted $20 million or more to consider playing in the AAF. Neither side has publicly confirmed this report, but several people have said that the conversation definitely took place.
definitely took place.
The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones reported that league CEO Charlie Ebersol was the one who reached out, and AAF co-founder Bill Polian confirmed that the two sides did, in fact, talk. Also, Polian himself reached out to former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow about a possible return to football. Tebow declined Polian, as well as Orlando Apollos coach Steve Spurrier’s offer, and chose to remain with the New York Mets organization and continue his baseball career.
Let’s look at the facts. When he was known as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the former Nevada Wolfpack star had a 25-14 record when Jim Harbaugh was head coach in the Bay Area. During that time, he won four playoff games and ran his team (literally) into Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens. Then, Kaepernick signed a six-year, $126 million extension with the 49ers in 2014. After that, Jim Tomsula, a left shoulder surgery, taking a knee, and Chip Kelly all contributed to him being pushed out of pro football.
Kaepernick’s prime NFL seasons ended five years ago. When Jim Harbaugh jumped ship for the University of Michigan, the perfect storm between Kaepernick’s talent and Harbaugh’s style ceased, and the winds of change began to blow. Now 31 years old, it’s been so long that we don’t even know if Kaepernick can still play football even though numerous signs point to the idea that he wants to.
If that’s the case, why would you ask for $20 million — knowing the AAF won’t pay you that after just starting last weekend — and lose out on your only path back to the NFL ?
The man has become an icon for his social activism. When he first took a knee during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality in 2016, he started a wave of social justice warriors who still speak out in support of him and rally around his message.
The #ImWithKap campaign has circled social media for much of the last year, and even led many celebrities like Rihanna and Cardi B to decline performing during the Super Bowl LIII halftime show in a sign of solidarity with Kaepernick, who is suing NFL owners for colluding to keep him out of football.
So again, why would you ask for $20 million!?
Personally, I loved Kaepernick as an NFL quarterback. I’ll never forget watching him put 263 passing yards, 181 rushing yards — still the NFL record for rush yards in one game by a QB — and four touchdowns on a hapless Green Bay Packers defense in his first postseason start. He deserved the praise he got back then as a player, but it’s 2019, folks. He’ll never be that player again.
If the AP reporting on his contract demands and asking price is accurate, Kaepernick is either letting revenge get the best of him, or he’s overvaluing his talent way too much. He might have just lost his last legitimate chance at pro football.