Will Kaepernick Work in the NFL Again?

Will Kaepernick Work in the NFL Again?
Will Kaepernick work in the NFL again?

Colin Kaepernick is widely credited with being the first man to kneel during the American national anthem to protest against racial inequality in the country. The former San Francisco 49er quarter back began the custom during the 2016 season, and a number of other black NFL players soon followed his lead.

However, it had a detrimental impact on his own career. When he became a free agent the next year, no team owners were willing to sign him because the practice he had started was viewed as unpatriotic, with President Trump and a number of other Republic politicians quick to condemn him for his behaviour.

He has not played since, with a couple of try-outs with other teams falling through for various reasons.

Kaepernick initiated a lawsuit against the NFL alleging that there had been collusion amongst the franchises to prevent him playing. That was settled out of court, with Kaepernick receiving an undisclosed sum, believed to be close to US $10 million.

Since then he has starred in a controversial Nike ad and continues to speak out on race matters.

Could that all be about to change though? In the wake of the death of the Afro-American man George Floyd in custody, and the widespread debate about the issues of racism in society at large and sport, the NFL has had a radical change of mind.

They admit that they were wrong in failing to listen to player protests, and have acknowledged the immense contribution that black players have made to the success of American football. And they have now said that players are free to protest during the playing of the National Anthem.

However, when NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell issued his mea culpa comments last week, he was heavily criticised for not mentioning Kaepernick specifically by name, something he has since rectified. He told a US radio show earlier this week that the NFL wanted to see the quarterback playing once more, and that he encouraged NFL teams to try and sign him for the forthcoming season.

It remains to be seen whether any are prepared to take the chance or not. He is now 32, which is by no means old for an NFL quarterback Tom Brady who has just signed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is ten years older. However, he has not played for four years so will not be at peak physical fitness.

More importantly, he remains a divisive figure. It will be interesting to see which team are prepared to risk the backlash they will inevitably receive in some quarters if they add his name to the roster for next season.

Suneer chowdhary
Sports Pundit staff writer @suneerchowdhary
ICC-accredited cricket journalist, covers Team India through their cricketing journey around the world

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