Patriots

49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

Colin Kaepernick was already a noteable NFL player as the one-time, and now apparently former, face of the San Francisco 49ers.

The quarterback likely will gain even more notoriety for his stance on refusing to stand for the national anthem at a preseason game on Friday:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In a statement released Saturday, the NFL said players "are encouraged but not required to" stand for the anthem.

More here from Mike Florio of NBCSports.com's Pro Football Talk on Kaepernick and Florio on the NFL's statement in response.

 

 

Good news, Jason McCourty: Proposed NFL onside kick alternative voted down

Good news, Jason McCourty: Proposed NFL onside kick alternative voted down

The NFL's message to teams that struggle to recover onside kicks: tough luck.

NFL owners passed three rule changes for 2020 during a virtual meeting Thursday, and a proposal for an alternative to the current onside kick format wasn't among them.

The proposal -- which would give teams the option after a score to attempt a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25-yard line to maintain possession instead of onside kicking -- came to a vote but ultimately was shot down, per Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.

Jason McCourty should be pleased with that result; the New England Patriots cornerback said Wednesday he wasn't a fan of the fourth-and-15 option, arguing the rule would "basically (reward) you for being behind."

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The proposal indeed was divisive: Some players and fans agreed with McCourty that the rule made it too easy for an opponent to wipe out a hard-earned lead, while others thought the change could spice up a predictable play: Only eight of 63 (12.7 percent) onside kicks were recovered last season.

As Breer points out, this proposal could resurface in the future. But in 2020, at least, defensive backs like McCourty won't have to worry about making a stop on a gimmick play to protect their team's lead.

Can Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham handle the spotlight? Ex-coach has encouraging take

Can Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham handle the spotlight? Ex-coach has encouraging take

It's always tough being the guy who follows the guy, and that's the challenge Jarrett Stidham likely will face during the 2020 NFL season.

Tom Brady left the Patriots as a free agent in March after winning six Super Bowl titles and setting plenty of records in his 20 years with the franchise. Next up at quarterback figures to be Stidham, who's the favorite to win the starting job over veteran Brian Hoyer.

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Being the one to replace Brady is going to put tons of pressure on Stidham. Fans, fairly or not, will expect great performances from him right away. And, as anyone who lives in this region understands, these fans aren't afraid to call out players who don't play at a high level.

Should we be confident Stidham can handle the spotlight? Troy head coach Chip Lindsey, who was the offensive coordinator at Auburn during Stidham's time with the Tigers, seems to think so.

“I know he’s extremely excited about this opportunity,” Lindsey told NESN.com's Doug Kyed. “I think he’s a guy that’s kind of -- when you come play at Auburn in the SEC. I don’t know how much you’re familiar with this league or not, but you’re under the microscope every week. You’re playing the biggest game of the week every week it seems like.

"He’s had his fair share of being in the limelight, good and bad, and I think he understands very well that, as a quarterback, by nature of the position, you get more credit than you deserve and more blame than you deserve. I think he’s totally comfortable with that and very comfortable with himself, which I think will serve him well.”

Lindsey is right about the SEC. No other conference in college football puts players under more pressure. It's the best conference in the nation, and 11 of the 19 FBS champions this century call it home. It's not the same as the NFL, obviously, but playing in that kind of environment where just about every opponent has NFL-caliber players on defense certainly benefited Stidham.

The only way to find out if Stidham can be a quality starting quarterback at the pro level is to give him a chance, and based on everything we've seen from the Patriots this offseason, it looks like his opportunity will come sooner rather than later.