Colin Kaepernick has been in the news a lot for someone who hasn’t played an NFL game since January 1, 2017. He had a fairly successful career to start in the NFL, quarterbacking the San Francisco 49ers to three NFC Championship Game appearances and one Super Bowl. But that wasn’t enough to keep his job, and he ended his 49ers career with a 28-30 record. Soon, he was in the news again for kneeling during the anthem rather than his football skills.
Kaepernick kneeled down to protest the inequality he felt existed in America between races, especially affecting African Americans. He also wanted to bring attention to police brutality against minorities. Many supported his protest, while others felt that athletes should, “stay in their lane,” and just play.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL.com at the time.
Many other athletes joined Kaepernick’s protest of the anthem and kneeled as well to show their solidarity. Some teams supported the athletes as well, while others doled out stiff fines to athletes who didn’t stand during the anthem.
Kaepernick went unsigned for the entire 2017 NFL season, and he is now suing NFL owners, claiming that they, “colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”
It is clear that the NFL owners wanted nothing to do with Kaepernick last season, and this season it is already beginning once more. Kaepernick was scheduled to work out for the Seattle Seahawks, but he refused to promise to stand for the anthem.
This decision to stick to his guns has now cost him another chance at the NFL, as Kaepernick’s workout was swiftly cancelled. This is probably a result of a lot of the public criticisms of the controversial quarterback.
Many claim that Colin was being disrespectful to the flag, and by extension to America through his actions. Others say he was offended veterans, a claim that many veterans actually openly argued against.
Navy veteran Jim Wright wrote a powerful essay defending Colin Kaepernick’s right to protest, arguing that “citizens of a democracy don’t have to pledge allegiance to anything, as freedom of expression is among the principles the troops have fought to preserve.”
“With threats, by violence, by shame, you can maybe compel Kaepernick to stand up and put his hand over his heart and force him to be quiet. If that’s what matters to you, the illusion of respect, then you’re not talking about freedom or liberty. Instead, you’re talking about every dictatorship from the Nazis to North Korea where people are lined up and made to salute with the muzzle of a gun pressed to the back of their necks. That, that illusion of respect, is not why I wore a uniform.”
Despite Wright’s powerful words, clearly Kaepernick still has public perception against him and NFL teams won’t give him a chance until that changes. What is your reaction to his controversial actions over the past few years?