Tony Dungy believes that NFL’s league-wide reluctance to sign Colin Kaepernick is similar to the situation Michael Vick faced when trying to return to football in 2009 after getting out of prison.
The former Indianapolis Colts head coach isn’t surprised that Kaepernick hasn’t been picked up by a team for two reasons: he lacks talent as a quarterback and he will be an immediate distraction on whichever team that decides to take a chance on him.
“Without that national anthem [protest], someone would have signed him by now,” Dungy said in an interview with Newsday published on Monday. “If you’re seen as a distraction off the field, for whatever reason, you better have a lot of talent going for you.”
The Hall of Fame coach compared NFL teams’ reluctance to sign Kaepernick to weighing the options of signing Michael Vick after he got out of prison for running an illegal dog-fighting operation in 2009 and drafting Joe Mixon despite the fact that he punched a woman in the face in 2014.
“Michael Vick went through a lot of that and had some teams say no,” Dungy said. “Andy Reid was the one coach who said, ‘Hey, we’ll do it. We think enough of him as a player, and we know we’re going to take some criticism.’ With Joe Mixon, you had the same thing. That’s what happens.”
If you possess considerable talent as a player, Dungy says, coaches and general managers will overlook the distraction. But for Kaepernick, that’s clearly not the case.
Kaepernick surrounded himself and the San Francisco 49ers in controversy throughout his National Anthem protest last season. He opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Shortly after that decision, he indicated that he did not plan to kneel in protest during the anthem if he joined another NFL team.