Colin Kaepernick is still without an NFL team. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback made news in 2016 when he was the first player to kneel during the national anthem. He also made news when he filled in for an injured Alex Smith in 2012 and guided the 49ers to a berth in the Super Bowl. After Kaepernick kneeled during the 2016 season, he never played in the NFL again.
Kaepernick’s NFL journey
Colin Kaepernick was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. He played his college football at Nevada. He threw just five passes in his rookie season but became a valuable commodity in 2012 when he filled in for an injured Alex Smith at quarterback.
Kaepernick started the final seven games of the 2012 season and went 5-2. He helped guide the 49ers into the playoffs with an 11-4-1 record. Kaepernick and the 49ers posted victories over the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs before falling to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31 in the Super Bowl.
Kaepernick then went on to lead the 49ers to a 12-4 record and another berth in the playoffs in 2013. He showed he was a dual-threat as a passer and a runner. In 2013, he racked up 524 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. In 2014, San Francisco went 8-8 under Kaepernick, and then the team struggled in his final two seasons in the league as he went a combined 3-17 as a starter in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Colin Kaepernick protests social injustice
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He began sitting while the anthem was playing during a preseason game and then began kneeling throughout the season. He explained his reasoning.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said after a 2016 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, according to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick continued to kneel as the season went on. He knew there would be backlash and possible financial implications. He was fine with it all. “This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Kaepernick hasn’t been in the NFL since that 2016 season
Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played in an NFL game in four years. Some say he was blackballed by the league, while others point to him having just one winning season as a full-time starter as his performance rapidly declined. Others believed teams were afraid to bring in Kaepernick because he might be a distraction as he would bring a swarm of media attention with him.
With all that’s going on in the world today, that distraction excuse has to be thrown out the window. According to NFL Network’s Michael Silver, there were a couple of teams who had shown interest earlier this season, but nothing has materialized. If Kaepernick’s not in the league, it has to be because he’s being blackballed or he’s just not good anymore. Being a distraction can no longer be an option.
“You look at the situation yesterday with the Detroit Lions, in the wake of the horrific Jacob Blake shooting, deciding we’re not practicing today,” Silver said, according to NFL.com. “There are bigger things going on. The landscape has completely changed from the day four years ago when our Steve Wyche first got Kaepernick to talk about why he was protesting, and it became a thing. It’s tough to make the case that Kaepernick in an NFL camp right now would not be received much, much differently than some owners feared a few years back. We’re at an inflection point in society, everybody’s thinking about racial justice. You see teams like the Lions, the Packers who made a statement earlier, the Bears, are making this part of their daily camp routine, and yet Colin Kaepernick, crickets.”