Two of the most recognizable quarterbacks in the game of football came under fire this week for one of the least scrutinized parts of their job: their language. One situation was head-scratching, while the other incident was just plain dumb.
In the fourth quarter of San Francisco’s 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears, Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a big interception. After the play, Kap was jawing with Chicago defensive end Lamarr Houston when he was flagged for inappropriate language. The penalty drew an $11,025 fine from the NFL, which he will appeal after maintaining he said nothing. Even Houston said that Kaepernick said nothing, strengthening the appeal.
While Kaepernick may be telling the truth, he has to be more careful when it comes to the officials. While most referees would have proceeded without penalizing a player for cursing, Carl Cheffers did; it may have been an unprecedented call, but it’s one he had the right to make. However, Cheffers should also have the responsibility of informing Kaepernick of what it was that he said; it’s unfair to fine a player when that player has no clue what he said to deserve it. Either way, this is another bizarre story in a month full of them for the NFL.
Even more bizarre than Kaepernick’s situation is Jameis Winston’s latest blunder. Winston is being suspended for Saturday’s game against Clemson for getting up on a table in the Florida State student union and yelling an obscene phrase. The phrase was popularized by an internet meme, and those who have heard that phrase understand what makes it so bad. Not only is it a terribly immature thing to yell out, but after Winston’s sexual assault investigation it is extremely tone-deaf as well.
“Famous Jameis” has become “Brainless Jameis” over the past few months. Since he was cleared in the rape case he has continued to be extremely unprofessional, with unintelligible interviews, crab leg robberies and juvenile lunchroom hi-jinks. In both the crab leg incident and student union incident, some members of the Florida State community were seeing their hero in person for the first time. He sure left an inauspicious first impression.
Winston is one of the most complete quarterbacks we have seen in college football in a long time. However, if he jumps from college to the pros after this season it would be a massive mistake. Unless he magically grows up from now until January, he needs as much schooling and mentoring from FSU as he can get. In his Wednesday press conference, he pushed across an image of a coddled football star who gets babied by his coaches, administration and fans. They love him so much that it doesn’t matter how many knuckle-headed mistakes he makes; as long as he’s ready to play after halftime on Saturday, they don’t care about his off-the-field transgressions. What message is that sending to high school football players who want to play college football? That talent outweighs doing the right thing?
College students make mistakes all the time, but Jameis is no normal college student. He needs to begin to realize that he’s held to a higher standard and that these juvenile acts are only going to keep him off the football field. Many football players are introverted, choosing to keep to themselves in the dining halls. Those are the ones who are playing the full game on Saturday, while the one who couldn’t help himself is watching 30 minutes from the bench.
The phrase, “With more power comes more responsibility,” certainly applies to quarterbacks; keeping the vulgarity to a minimum is a part of that responsibility. Colin Kaepernick and Jameis Winston need to have that in the back of their heads from now on as they strive to improve their teams rather than setting them back.