On Sunday, the 2020 NFL season kicked off in earnest. Beyond the lack of fans in the stands, though, there was something else different about the games. The league rolled out its full complement of social justice efforts, painting anti-racism messages in the endzone and allowing players to wear the names of victims of police brutality and systemic racism on their helmets, among other things. Colin Kaepernick, however, wasn’t satisfied with those initiatives.
While the games were in full swing, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback let the league have it. Taking to Twitter, Kaepernick called the NFL’s efforts “propaganda” and questioned why Eric Reid was without a job.
Colin Kaepernick made history by protesting in 2016
When he first burst onto the NFL scene in 2012, Colin Kaepernick seemed poised for stardom as the league’s next dual-threat quarterback. These days, however, his football career is only part of the story.
During the 2016 preseason, Kaepernick remained seated during the national anthem. After consulting with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret, the quarterback began to kneel; while that change was made to show respect and prevent controversy, the exact opposite happened.
Seemingly overnight, Kaepernick’s protest grabbed national headlines. He was branded, at best, a distraction; many deemed him un-American. At the end of the campaign, the quarterback opted out of his contract and became a free agent. No NFL teams came calling, leaving Kaepernick without a job.
The narrative around his protests have (somewhat) changed
Four years after his first protest, Colin Kaepernick is still making news. These days, though, the narrative around the former quarterback is somewhat different.
Earlier this year, a former NFL executive admitted that owners around the league had essentially decided that signing Kaepernick would be bad for business. Commissioner Roger Goodell has since publically said that “Black Lives Matter,” encouraged teams to sign the quarterback, and acknowledged that the league should have listened to him sooner.
While those statements, combined with the league’s current initiatives, may seem like a major change, some realities remain constant. Protesting during the national anthem has become commonplace in the world of sports, but not everyone appreciates the gesture; on NFL opening night, Kansas City Chiefs fans even booed a “moment of unity” that took place independently from the anthem.
Colin Kaepernick blasts the NFL’s efforts as ‘propaganda’ while defending Eric Reid
On Sunday, the 2020 NFL season began in earnest. Colin Kaepernick, however, still wasn’t happy about what he was seeing from the league.
“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) for fighting for the Black community,” Kaepernick tweeted. “Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league.” The quarterback also quote-tweeted a Deadspin story about Reid’s lack of an NFL job.
Reid, of course, protested alongside Kaepernick in San Francisco. While he managed to remain in the league for longer than the quarterback, he’s currently without a job. Carolina released the safety in March and, despite his age and stats—Reid is 28-years-old and recorded 97 solo tackles and four sacks last season—he hasn’t found another job.
Is the NFL making legitimate efforts to combat racism and social injustice? Or are they simply paying lip service to the cause without doing their part? While everyone is free to form their own opinions, we now know how Colin Kaepernick feels.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference