By Alana Winns
Colin Kaepernick is still without a job for the 2017 season, and the perplexing situation has left many industry insiders offering their thoughts as well as advice for the unsigned quarterback, including Michael Vick.
The former Eagles quarterback thinks that in order for Kaepernick to be taken seriously enough to land a spot on an NFL team, he needs to look more presentable.
His advice to Kaepernick: Get a haircut.
“First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair,” Vick said matter-of-factly on Monday.
Appearing on Fox Sports 1’s “Speak For Yourself,” Vick shared his recommendations while admitting to host Jason Whitlock and guest Mark Schlereth that he didn’t listen to suggestions to change his own image until late in his career, when he was “going through the turmoil” after spending 18 months in prison for financing and running a dog fighter ring.
“Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct. Even if he puts cornrows in there. I don’t think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle,” Vick said. “Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable.”
He also said he would give Kaepernick this same advice if he was talking directly with him.
“I just think perception and image is everything. This is not the Colin Kaepernick that we’ve known since he entered the National Football League. I’m just going off my personal experiences. Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field. This has to be a start for him,” he said.
Back in March, ESPN’s statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight looked at Kaepernick’s stats and came to the conclusion that with his numbers, playoff experience and potential upside — considering he’s 29 years old — he should have earned him a spot on someone’s roster, especially as a backup.
“Kaepernick’s current employment status looks less like a natural result of the supposed NFL meritocracy and more like something unusual is going on (even by the standards of an unusually complex situation),” Kyle Wagner and Neil Paine pointed out. “His play is good enough to have attracted interest from teams by now. That it hasn’t suggests that he’s being punished on at least some level for his political outspokenness.”
Even Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, who is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and spent 14 years with the 49ers, offered his thoughts earlier this month to sports site Sporting News, blaming Kaepernick’s situation on being a distraction in the locker room.
“Everyone thinks it is the stance he took; one of the things you don’t look for is distractions in the locker room. You can go back to Bill Walsh and as soon as there were guys that weren’t fitting in what he was looking for, it didn’t matter how good you were. You weren’t on the team for very long. You have to have people who want the same thing, fighting for the same thing and willing to put in the time.”
However, Michael Vick thinks otherwise.
“When you’re good, and you’re playing great, then you’re going to be wanted. People are going to want to sign you, going to want to see you play,” Vick said. “It has nothing to do with him being blackballed.”
Vick said it’s also possible coaching issues might have affected Kaepernick’s play but stayed mum on names, including fired 49ers coach Chip Kelly (who also coached Vick in Philadelphia for one season).
Regardless of potential conflicts, Vick said Kaepernick might simply lack what teams are currently looking for in their quarterback slots.
“We don’t know his commitment, his dedication to the game right now. Unless you talk to Colin personally, you probably won’t know. I still think his heart is in football. He’s fairly young,” Vick said. “He still has football left in him, but it’s still predicated on what teams want in the quarterback position.”