I knew this was coming.
Maybe I was asking for it when I suggested in a column this week that the New England Patriots, then in need of a backup after dealing away Jimmy Garoppolo, were in a unique position to make a powerful statement about real unity by signing Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, who last season mounted a protest against police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem, has been teamless this season despite a fair amount of rancid quarterback play from otherwise talented teams. (Predictably, the Patriots signed Brian Hoyer.)
“Right now,” I wrote, “you’re either nodding in agreement, or you just set your computer on fire and are burning me in effigy while singing the national anthem at your desk.”
That turned out to be pretty accurate. Almost immediately, the e-mails started pouring in. Some simply said, “Right on!” or something similar. Others urged me to remove my head from where the quarterback puts his hands before he takes the snap. And others parroted obvious falsehoods that detractors have spread about Kaepernick: That he wants too much money (wrong); that he’s not interested in playing (also wrong); that he’d still have a job if he hadn’t opted out of his contract in San Francisco (super wrong).
For what it’s worth, the final tally of 81 e-mails was split down the middle between those who said they wished the Pats had signed Kaepernick (42) and those who would rather watch the season burn should Tom Brady miss time (38). (One was too incoherent to categorize.)
Here are a few choice missives, edited for length, spelling, clarity, and expletives:
■ “The moment I heard that Garoppolo was traded, I texted my 18-year-old son and told him the same thing! I think it would be great on so many levels, (mainly that they need a backup QB), but also to show support for Kaepernick and the cause that he kneels for . . . liberty and justice for all.”
■ “The people here are very patriotic. It is unthinkable to hire someone like Colin Kaepernick to play for the Patriots. The ratings are already down in the NFL. If they picked up Kaepernick there would be a massive season ticket turn in.”
■ “I could not believe someone else feels the same way I do. After reading about the trade Monday, I said to my wife, ‘Now what the Patriots should do is sign Kaepernick immediately; if they do I will support them again.’ ”
■ “As the wife of a retired police officer I totally disagree with your proposal for the Patriots to sign Colin Kaepernick. When I saw pictures of Kaepernick with his socks [depicting police as pigs] and his endorsement of Fidel Castro, I lost all respect for him. In my opinion he deserves the consequences of his hateful messages. Never a Patriot.”
■ “One point that I believe is lost to us, is the game, football, baseball, etc., are places to escape this increasingly mad world we live in. I want to go and watch activities that are fun, not political, and enjoy the few hours of the week where one can kick back. Signing him, as noble as it appears, makes the Pats political and that’s not enjoyable.”
■ “To me Colin Kaepernick has made his point with strength and dignity. I have a question, though. How does he fit that hairdo into a football helmet???”
Finally, one man named William and another named Bill e-mailed their very succinct thoughts to me within 10 minutes of each other.
“A wonderful piece! Thank you!” William wrote.
Bill was less impressed.
“Have never read such a piece of garbage.”
The internet is a big place, but perhaps some day they’ll find each other.Nestor Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.