San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, right, and outside linebacker Eli Harold (58) take a knee during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

Do Cuban lives matter? NFL has the answer

The NFL has always been quick to send the right message when it comes to social and political correctness and protection of its brand. Used to, anyway.

Two years ago, for instance, the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones was fined and barred from team activities until he completed sensitivity training for tweeting “OMG” and “horrible” after draft pick Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend on live television.

So NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his posse certainly will want to put the hammer down on Colin Kaepernick after his latest fit of buffoonery, right?

Or how ’bout you, Santa Clara CEO Jed York?

Kaepernick peeved off practically the entire Cuban population in Florida, among other places, at a news conference last week when he wore a shirt that linked communist oppressor Fidel Castro and Malcolm X. Pressed about the wardrobe choice, Kaepernick tried to backpedal, only to step in deeper doo-doo when he praised Castro for his achievements and spewed false facts about Cuba and advice as to how the United States could meet its standards.

Then again, Kaepernick has never been one for accuracy, you know.

At best, Kaepernick’s remarks are the height of insensitivity, not to mention incredibly dumb. Doesn’t he realize that Castro ruined millions of lives with his heavy-handed abuse of human rights?

Just a hunch, but Balls bets that a few Cubans have joined the #boycottNFL movement the last few days.

SAY IT’S ’ZO: Kaepernick can’t make his teammates better — he hasn’t won a start in 408 days — but he sure can motivate the other side.

Kaepernick was booed loudly in the 31-24 loss in Miami on Sunday. Dolphins linebacker and Cuba native Kiko Alonzo was so stoked that he had his best game of the season. Fittingly, he smoked Kaepernick like a Cuban cigar on the final play of the game.

Afterward, Alonzo tweeted a photo of his smackdown with the caption, “Vamos Coño !!!! #FinsUp #MiamiDolphins #MIAvsSF #CubaLibre” and the Cuban flag.

Vamos Coño? Maybe the league can put Alonzo and Kaepernick in the same educational training class.

RUNNING JOKE: Kaepernick has put up some decent numbers against disinterested defenses lately, especially in garbage time. But let’s get this straight: He’s not a quarterback. He’s a running back disguised as a quarterback. He gained a team-high 113 yards on the ground in the loss, but that’s no way to win consistently in this league.

The final sequence on the 6-yard line confirmed why Kaepernick will never amount to more than he is now. Five receivers were targets on the play. He gave a quick glance to Vance McDonald but didn’t bother to look at the others. If he had waited a fraction longer, he might have noticed that Carlos Hyde had sneaked out of the backfield and was open in the middle of the field.

As usual, Kaepernick decided to play heroball and took off to the right side. McDonald was in position to make a catch at the far right side of the end zone, but that would have required a tight throw. So he went for broke.

Splat! Alonzo and Ndamukong Suh bent him backwards at the 2-yard line. He was fortunate to escape injury. He might not be as lucky next time.

GOFF MOVES UP: While it takes two or three years to evaluate a draft, it may not be too early to think that Santa Clara general manager Trent Baalke made another big mistake not to trade up for either quarterback Jared Goff or Carson Wentz last spring.

Goff took another step forward in his first road start on Sunday, when he stood toe-to-toe with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the first half. He finished with 214 yards, three touchdown passes and one interception.

The Rams dropped their sixth game in the last seven starts, 49-21, but all wasn’t lost. Coach Jeff Fisher is that much closer to a pink slip, the best thing that can happen for the futures of Goff and the team.

CHIEF OBSTACLE: The Raiders tried like heck to give one away in a 35-32 thriller on Sunday — they led 24-7 at halftime — but the Carolina Panthers wouldn’t take gift. Now, they have a share of the AFC lead with a New England Patriots team that has begun to show its age.

It’s the Kansas City Chiefs that the Raiders should be concerned about more.

The Chiefs passed a crucial AFC West road test in Denver, an overtime victory that was set up by coach Gary Kubiak’s curious decision to attempt a 62-yard field that missed from here to Colorado Springs. At 8-3, the Chiefs are one game behind the Raiders but have a more favorable schedule. The Chiefs have dates with the Broncos and Raiders at home. The Silver and Black will also play the Broncos on the road.

The Broncos have a 1-3 record in the division and 7-4 overall, and operations chief John Elway won’t be able to come down from his suite to help them.

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Ricky Watters?

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

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