Even those with the most basic knowledge of American Football have come to know and recognise the name Colin Kaepernick. His story is one oft-recited, and one that should continue to be.
The quarterback has become one of the most recognisable faces in the sport due to his social activism, drawing attention by kneeling during the pre-match national anthem in order to protest against police brutality against minorities in the United States of America.
Kaepernick, like a good number who decide to take a stand for something that empassions them, lost his livelihood as a result. Having exercised his constitutional right, he hasn’t featured in the National Football League (NFL) since leaving the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. He hasn’t played a game since the final week of the 2016 season.
Despite being out of the game, an award-winning Nike advert ‘Dream Crazy’ was beamed out across the globe from September 2018, once again putting Kaepernick front and centre with the inspirational tagline, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Inevitably, it provoked the ire of the 45th President of the United States. Sales of Nike, however, reportedly surged 31% after the airing.
The NFL has now informed the 32 teams that form the professional American football league that a training session in Atlanta is being orchestrated to showcase the still-free-agent.
The 32-year-old Kaepernick tweeted out on November 13: “I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs [General Managers] on Saturday.”
The Milwaunkee-born football player, who was initially drafted by the 49ers in 2011, has the 23rd highest career passing rate in NFL history, the 17th highest career adjusted yards per attempt in the NFL, the 2nd best interception rate in NFL history and the 9th most rushing yards per game of any quarter-back in NFL history (Rodger Sherman for The Ringer).
Kaepernick completed 59.2% of his passes, averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and threw 16 touchdowns with four interceptions in 12 games for the 49ers during his final campaign with the Niners. The man is a proper baller, make no mistake, which begs the question - why has he not been snapped up before now?
The NFL, and the sides that compromise it, have been accused of ‘blackballing’ Kaepernick because of his decision to ‘take the knee’, something they deny.
However, what’s not in doubt is the fact that in the US Kaepernick continues to divide opinion.
His divisiveness has been fundamental to his prominence, recognisability, and fame. His action of kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner was seen by many as unpatriotic and disrespectful to the United States, its military and its veterans. The latest development with the try-out opportunity from the NFL has once again drawn a mixed reaction, with some responses congratulatory, others disparaging.
The reality is that that Kaepernick is still without a club. The alleged ‘blackballing’ may well continue.
This could ultimately trigger a new chapter in a riveting, yet ultimately disappointing saga of Kaepernick’s career. A proven talented athlete having been denied prime years in the sport in which he has excelled.. Importantly however he remains in the spotlight and, to paraphrase Barack Obama, continues to generate conversation on topics that need to be talked about.