When Norman died in 2006, Smith and Carlos went to Australia to serve as his pallbearers.

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It’s no small thing he did, and no small thing Long did. If it were no big deal, he would not have been the first white player to step out this way … a year after Kaepernick first knelt, and after more than a few white NFL players chimed in about it. Alex Boone, Joel Dreessen, Drew Brees, we’re looking at you.

The next one, or two, or five, do not have to be superstars, the face of the league. It could be, of course. A Tom Brady or a J.J. Watt would go a few solar systems beyond changing the conversation. But those were not stars who have been carrying the weight so far. Kaepernick certainly was not.
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Under this circumstance, Kaepernick would be forced to learn a new playbook and build chemistry with receivers while handcuffed by the time restrictions that come with in-season practices.

Sam Bradford waded through that mess in 2016 when traded by Philadelphia to Minnesota at the end of the preseason. After winning his first four starts, the Vikings went 3-8 down the stretch. Part of the reason was Minnesota’s lack of a dynamic passing game.

Having the time to spend here during the offseason is just better for everyone, Bradford told Vikings media earlier this month. Our communication is better — just having the time to work through some routes, work through really everything as opposed to what we had to last year and kind of learn everything on the fly.

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