Trent Dilfer

ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer has been criticized for his recent comments about Colin Kaepernick on Sunday’s NFL Countdown, especially for sounding like a mouthpiece for his buddy, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. Kaepernick himself responded to Dilfer’s assertion that backup quarterbacks should be quiet, calling his remarks “ridiculous.”

If you missed what Dilfer said, here’s an exact quote:

“The big thing that hit me through all of this is that this is a backup quarterback, whose job is to be quiet, and sit in the shadows, and get the starter ready to play Week 1. Yet he chose a time where all of a sudden he became the center of attention, and it has disrupted that organization, it has caused friction, and it’s torn at the fabric of the team.”

And here’s a clip, if you’d prefer to see the words come directly from Dilfer’s mouth (while Randy Moss gives him a death glare):

But Dilfer isn’t backing down. After all, he’s not a backup quarterback, but an ESPN analyst covering our nation’s favorite sport. Being quiet isn’t in the job description. Nor is it expected when appearing as a guest on a sports talk radio show.

Speaking with Fitz & Brooks on San Francisco’s KNBR, Dilfer said he spoke from his own experience as a backup quarterback. While with the Seattle Seahawks, childhood slavery was an important issue to him and his wife, and he considered that he had a large platform to speak about the issue. But he chose not to cause a distraction during the 2001 season, while serving as second-string to Matt Hasselbeck. Here’s what he said, via Deadspin:

“My wife and I had been introduced to some really disturbing stuff and other social injustices: Childhood slavery in our country. And I’d gone to a couple seminars and presentations where we got really deep in the weeds about this issue. It became a passion of ours to help fight this battle of childhood slavery around the country and I had a very big platform in Seattle and I could have leveraged being a Seattle Seahawk, being an NFL quarterback, done a lot to get that message out there, but I chose not to at the sake of not wanting to disrupt the team and I never want to draw attention to myself, and take it away from Matt, the rest of our team and our preparation to win.”

The Seahawks went 9-7 that season, so it’s probably debatable as to how much Dilfer could have derailed his team that season. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio also points out that childhood slavery was an issue important to Hasselbeck, one he spoke out against while backing up Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts. So would he have really had a problem with Dilfer talking about it at the time? Teammates and coach Mike Holmgren may have been another matter, of course.

But would drawing attention to such an issue have really caused that much division in the Seahawks’ locker room or any sort of national controversy? Probably not. It’s a silly comparison, even if Dilfer is trying to demonstrate that he stuck to the backup quarterback’s code of silence that he believes in.


About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

41 thoughts on “Trent Dilfer sticks to assertion that backup quarterbacks should be seen, not heard

  1. oooo that Seattle comparison even makes it worse. Here’s one place I do not agree or like what Trent stated regarding Kaepernick! I’m white, but I understand, as completely as possible, what Kaepernick is addressing. And I really resent those who say, “this should be addressed OFF the FIELD”. That enrages me! That has been done. For decades! And we’re still NO BETTER! And seeing too many policemen, who have shot a “black” fleeing–in the back, unarmed, and the policeman charged with nothing–well, ENOUGH! Kaep’s protest was quiet and peaceful, until MEDIA voices and, now, white supremacists, made it noisy and confrontational. On what other “field” could Colin have reached more minds! I’m sorry Trent, but I never even heard a thing about what you and your wife did back in 2001until reading that here. Please rethink! AND hat does it say about the NFL!! NOT ONE single team has hired Colin Kaepernick! What does that say! $$$ So sorry the Ravens didn’t sign him. But then that stupid Tweet!

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