Colin Kaepernick first grabbed the country's attention four and a half years ago when he helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He was one of the league's brightest young stars. One year after his decision to speak out for equality in America, no NFL team will sign him. Scroll to follow Colin Kaepernick's path from stardom to exile.
Smith suffered a concussion in the first half of a 24-24 tie with the St. Louis Rams in Week 10. Colin Kaepernick replaces him, and finishes the game 11-for-17 with 117 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, 66 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
The 49ers beat the Bears by a final score of 32-7. Kaepernick is 16-for-23, 243 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT.
The 49ers win both games with Kaepernick starting in place of Smith, and head coach Jim Harbaugh decides to stay with Kaepernick when Smith is cleared to return.
"What tips the scales is Colin has the hot hand, so we'll go with Colin," Harbaugh said at the time.
Kaepernick will remain the starter through the rest of the season. Smith is traded to Kansas City in March 2013.
Kapernick’s final 2012 stats: 13 games, 7 starts, 62.4% completion rate, 1,814 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT, 415 rushing yards, 5 TD
Kaepernick and the 49ers come within 5 yards of winning the game. His stats for the game: 16-28, 302 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 62 rushing yards, and 1 TD.
"I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever," Jaworski said on ESPN. "I love his skill set. I think the sky's the limit."
Kaepernick said of Jaworski’s comments, "I’m working. To me, it's a great honor he said that. I'm very flattered by it. But at the same time, I haven't played a full season yet."
It’s a minor injury, and he still manages to start in a Week 12 win over Washington.
Kaepernick’s final 2013 stats: 16 starts, 58.4% completion rate, 3,197 yards, 21 TD, 8 INT, 524 rushing yards, 4 TD. The 49ers finished the regular season with a 12-4 record.
It was an instant classic that saw the Seahawks dig themselves out of a 10-0 hole for a comeback win. It ended with a game-clinching interception, Kaepernick’s second, by Malcolm Smith.
Despite the final outcome, there’s still plenty of optimism about Kaepernick’s future with the team.
The deal includes $12.9 million guaranteed at signing. Total guaranteed money from the extension could be worth as much as $61 million.
The injury forced Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman to scale back the offense.
"I think anytime you have a foot, a hand or a finger, it affects you throwing and running," Harbaugh said.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers told him that he would not be back to coach the team in 2015. He decided to finish the season, claiming "I didn't leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me."
The 49ers fail to make the playoffs for the first time in Harbaugh’s tenure as head coach and Kaepernick’s NFL career.
Kaepernick’s 2014 stats: 16 starts, 60.5% completion rate, 3,369 yards, 19 TD, 10 INT, 639 rushing yards, 1 TD
The offensive line was decimated by injuries. Jonathan Martin filled in at RT while Anthony Davis rehabbed an injury. Daniel Kilgore replaced Jonathan Goodwin at center. Kilgore broke his leg Week 7 and was done for the year. Kaepernick is sacked 52 times.
Vernon Davis’ play tapered off as well. He finished the season with 26 receptions, 52% catch rate, 245 yards, 2 TD. The year before he caught 52 passes for 852 yards and 13 TD.
49ers announced that Harbaugh and the team "mutually agreed to part ways."
An injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder ends Kaepernick’s season after just eight starts.
Kaepernick’s 2015 stats: 8 starts, 59% completion rate, 1,615 yards, 6 TD, 5 INT, 256 rushing yards, 1 TD
That includes a rod in his leg he’s dealt with over career with the 49ers.
Doctors repair a ligament in his right hand, his throwing hand. The knee surgery was a scope to deal with a previous injury to his left knee.
Albert Breer wrote, "Ask defensive coaches about the possibility of those two teaming up, and one word generally describes the various answers: terror."
He dropped XAM Sports. Sean Kiernan and Jeff Nalley of Select Sport Group, who negotiated his last contract restructuring, will represent Kaepernick going forward.
"Well, once again, I don’t know where that’s coming from," Baalke said when it was suggested that Kaepernick wasn’t happy. "The last time we talked to Colin, Colin was excited."
The two teams had reportedly agreed in principal, but the deal rested on Kaepernick’s willingness to restructure his contract. Trade talks tapered off quickly thereafter.
Kaepernick’s injuries and the recovery process give Gabbert a head start in learning incoming head coach Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme.
Chip Kelly says that’s part of the plan for the team’s quarterback competition. He adds that Kaepernick is gaining his weight back and wants to see him fully healthy.
Despite positive reports earlier in the week, Kaepernick’s arm issues keep out of the action in the exhibition opener against the Texans.
He sits on the bench during the national anthem, his first protest during a game, but it goes unnoticed.
Kelly downplays the significance of Adam Schefter’s report, citing arm fatigue experienced as part of the recovery process.
The next day, Kelly says he’ll ease Kaepernick back into throwing the ball in practice. He’ll miss the team’s second preseason game as well.
It goes unnoticed again this time.
Gabbert gets the start, and Kaepernick comes off the bench later in the game. He finished 2-for-6 with 17 yards against the Packers.
Jennifer Lee Chan of Niners Nation tweeted out a photo of the anthem, unrelated to Kaepernick sitting. The story gained national attention later that night and the 49ers released a statement confirming Kaepernick sat for the anthem.
Kaepernick told the media after the game he sat because of the oppression of people of color and ongoing issues with police brutality.
"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 told Steve Wyche. "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."
"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."
"The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."
Kelly told reporters sitting during the anthem is "his right as a citizen" and said "it's not my right to tell him not to do something."
"Maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen," he said.
"In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick," one general manager said.
Kaepernick told the media he would donate the first $1 million of his 2016 salary to various organizations. He made it clear that he would maintain a focus on football, working "10, 11, 12 hours a day" on the game.
"When it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us — that is a tough thing for them to get past," Obama said. "But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about."
"Well my personal thoughts are... I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society. We live in an imperfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that. I think it's important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement, and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals."
"These are all important things for us, and that moment is a very important moment. So, I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing. We encourage our players to be respectful in that time and I like to think of it as a moment where we can unite as a country. And that's what we need more, and that's what I think football does - it unites our country. So I would like to see us focusing on our similarities and trying to bring people together."
"That’s really been the last time as a team we’ve ever talked about the situation," Chip Kelly said of a players-only meeting on August 28. "We recognize and respect Kap’s decision, and his constitutional rights to do what he’s doing.
"I got to give a big pat on the back to our entire team, our coaching staff, our entire organization," Jerry Jones said. "We strongly, strongly support the flag in every way we support -- and it’s almost ridiculous to be saying it -- the people who for generations and generations have given it all up so that we can get out here and show off in front of millions of people on television."
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said, "I don't think it was any lack of respect. Certainly, I think, everyone here, our team, our whole organization respects the flag and what it stands for, and with the soldiers, and everything. But I think, these guys are really making a conversation of something that's a very important topic in this country, and I'm 100 percent supportive of them. It’s a country where you’re really allowed to indicate what your preferences are, and how your feelings are, and that’s what makes us so great. And I think it’s great, and I applaud them for what they’re doing."
"I don’t want to kneel forever," Kaepernick said. "I want these things to change. I do know it will be a process, and it is not something that will change overnight. But I think there are some major changes that we can make that are very reasonable."
Kelly is asked how it feels when Kaepernick takes over the locker room by talking about his concerns. Kelly said he doesn’t take over rooms.
"There is no challenge [facing Gabbert]. He threw for 100 yards," Bennett said via Curtis Crabtree of PFT and 950 KJR. "The challenge is him reading the defenses and staying in the pocket. What’s the point in running when you have to throw the ball? I think Kaepernick gives the team a better chance of winning, but that’s just my opinion."
"I think he’s a strong man," Kaepernick said via the San Jose Mercury News. "I don’t know if he realizes how much that means to me and if he realizes how much that means to these people, to these communities. The fact that he was willing to take a strong stand and say these things aren’t right, and that’s huge coming from a head coach."
"Sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other," Obama said. "So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing."
Gabbert throws a pair of interceptions, and the Cardinals score 26 points in the second half for a 33-21 win over the 49ers. The loss moves them to 1-4 on the season, and frustrated fans are calling for Kaepernick to start.
The reworked deal removes the last four years of Kaepernick’s old contract and allows him to opt out of it for 2018. It converted his roster bonuses into base salary and removed the injury guarantees. That took away the financial risk for team in the event of an injury and paved the way for him to be the starter.
Baldwin said: "the one quote that I was informed of was, ‘You’re going to stand on the line with your hand on your heart and you’re going to sing the National Anthem because this is my stage.’"
Executives saw, "no evidence that concern over player protests during the national anthem is having any material impact on our ratings. In fact, our own data shows that perception of the NFL and its players is actually up in 2016."
The 49ers lose 45-16 to the Bills in Buffalo. Kaepernick goes 13-for-29 with 187 yards, a touchdown and 66 rushing yards.
"Would I arrest them for doing it? No," Ginsburg said. "I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it."
"It is disappointing to hear a Supreme Court justice call a protest against injustices and oppression ‘stupid, dumb’ in reference to players doing that," Kaepernick said.
"Barely aware of the incident or its purpose, my comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh," she said. "I should have declined to respond."
It’s the team’s sixth loss in a row. Kaepernick finishes the game 16-for-34, 143 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and 84 rushing yards
"I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality this country says it stands for," Kaepernick said after being booed by Bills fans.
The crowds at a rally for presidential candidate Donald Trump in Green Bay started the chant.
"I don't know if you know — the NFL is way down in their ratings. And you know why? Two reasons," Trump said. "And the other reason is Kaepernick. Kaepernick."
Kaepernick goes 24-39, 398 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. He has the best half of play by a 49er since Steve Young in 1997.
Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said, "Colin is fine. He’s been up and down a little bit, but he’s fine and he’ll continue to get better. I don’t have an issue with where he’s at."
"I won’t address Marcus [Peters] specifically, but let me say, I do think the right thing is for all the players and coaches on the sideline to stand during the national anthem and pay the respect that our flag and the people who have given their life for it deserve," Hunt said.
Kaepernick finishes 17-for-30 with 210 yards and one TD.
Kap throws for 220 yards and 2 TD.
Costas suggests that players could stay in the locker room during the Star Spangled Banner so fans at the stadium and viewers at home don’t have to see their protest.
Kaepernick shows plan to donate $100,000 a month for 10 months to organizations working in oppressed communities.
Kaepernick plays his most productive game of the season, throwing for 296 yards, three TD, 1 INT and 113 rushing yards.
He was 1-for-5 with 4 yards when Kelly pulled him. He was also sacked five times. Still, the benching surprised Kaepernick.
However, sources cited in the report made it clear that it did not rule out a return to the 49ers for 2017.
Kaepernick is 15-for-26 with 133 yards and a touchdown.
Teresa and Rick Kaepernick wrote in a statement to The Undefeated: "As his parents, it pains us to read articles and tweets saying that his family does not support him; this could not be further from the truth. We want people to know that we are very proud of our son and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others."
Kaepernick goes 20-for-33 with 183 yards, 2 TD.
Kaepernick said, "We have to create a culture of winning, and winning by any means. Right now, our culture isn’t that. We have to be able to improve and create that."
"If you made me bet, I’d say he’s not in the NFL next year because the NFL is the ultimate right wing, Republican league there is," Simms said. "And I’m shocked about all the hate I hear towards him from NFL coaches around the league."
Kaepernick throws two touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown and ran in the game-winning two-point conversion to give the 49ers their first win in 13 games.
Kaepernick’s teammates vote to give him the Len Eshmont Award, which goes to the player who "best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team."
Kaepernick goes 17-for-22 with 215 yards and a touchdown.
Kaepernick praised the organization after the game, and added that he would take some time to reflect on his contract decision and the next season.
A report surfaces that Kaepernick would be more open to staying with the 49ers following the firing of GM Trent Baalke, who he had a strained relationship with.
He added that he would take some time to reflect on his contract decision and the next season.
There was also some speculation that firing GM Trent Baalke could make staying with the 49ers easier given the strained relationship between the two men.
A report surfaces that Kaepernick would be more open to staying with the 49ers following the firing of GM Trent Baalke, who he had a strained relationship with.
"I wouldn’t touch the guy," one personnel man from a quarterback-needy team told the Daily News. "(He) still has some in the tank, but (is) not worth bringing him into your building . . . too much of a distraction and also not what you want in the locker room."
"I think for me personally, it was just almost annoying," Kerley said. "It was just talked about too much and to the point where everybody thought it was a problem for us. It was never a problem in the locker room. It’s not something that we had to sit down and have a team meeting about."
Kaepernick and the team’s new general manager reportedly "hit it off."
"Colin’s had success in this league," the 49ers new head coach said. "He took a team to the Super Bowl so obviously Colin has a lot of ability."
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan meet with Kaepernick "We had a great discussion," Lynch said. "And Colin left excited, we left excited and I think as Kyle and I really believe, the evaluation is still very much fluid."
FOX Sports executive vice president of research Mike Mulvihill said, "The ratings declines that were the subject of so much speculation were never about fans abandoning the NFL. Rather, the declines were about a growing pool of fans spending less time with the games each week."
"It was one of the most disgraceful displays I've ever seen by a professional athlete on his field of play," Esiason said. "You can't do this. I couldn't have been more direct, succinct, or disgusted by Colin Kaepernick."
Sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he will stop kneeling during the anthem because he does not want that to distract from the positive change he’s created with his protest in 2016.
New general manager John Lynch says the team would have cut him regardless.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan followed that report by saying the team has "no attachment" to Kaepernick.
"He won’t be back with the Niners because I don’t think he can run that offense anyway," he said. "That’s no knock on Colin Kaepernick, he’s got a track record—we’ve all seen him play, but he’s not that style of quarterback."
Peter King writes: "I spent a long draft weekend with the Niners in California, and there are those in the building who think Kaepernick might actually rather do social justice work full-time than play quarterback."
Andy Benoit says NFL teams were able to figure out mobile quarterbacks like Kaepernick and RGIII.
"He can still play at a high level," one AFC general manager told Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman. "The problem is three things are happening with him.
"First, some teams genuinely believe that he can't play. They think he's shot. I'd put that number around 20 percent.
"Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.
"Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can't stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won't move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did."
"I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player," Harbaugh told PFT Live.
"He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships."
"I'm sure he is," Sherman said on ESPN’s First Take. "It's difficult to see, because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand. Obviously he's going to be in a backup role at this point. But you see quarterbacks, I mean, there was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year. So it has nothing to do with football. You can see that. They signed guys who’ve had off years before."
"Most people can agree [Kaepernick’s] current unemployment is a combination of his anthem protest and his declining play," he said, "which is playing more into it?"
"Further, we know from multiple sources that Kaepernick isn't just looking for any job," Dan Graziano of ESPN says Kaepernick is looking for a starting job and between $9-10 million per season.
A day later, another report refutes that, adding that discussions have never progressed to that point.
"I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue," Goodell said at the NFL owners meetings.
"I would never use just a generic, stupid term like that to describe a more complicated type of situation," John Harbaugh told reporters at the NFL owners’ meeting. "I just think it’s too easy. It’s intellectually lazy. To me, I think that it’s more nuanced. And I do think that people are, yeah, I absolutely think he’s going to get signed. I think he’ll probably be starting somewhere [in 2017]."
"Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things," Shanahan said. "I think Colin has a certain skill-set that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in. When we first looked at it, you’ve got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go... The type of offense I want to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction."
"We’ve watched him," O’Brien said. "Like I’ve said, we feel good about where we’re at right now with Tom and Brandon Weeden, but we’ve watched him and discussed him. I think that’s a fluid situation as far as free agency goes, not just for Colin Kaepernick but for the teams.
Harbaugh admits to not initially liking Kaepernick’s protest, but tells The MMQB, "It wasn’t a distraction because we were listening to what they were saying," Harbaugh said. "And they had a valid point. And they continue to have a valid point."
Chip Kelly said, "Colin was focused on football. He was all about the team and trying to help us win."
"At season’s end, Colin Kaepernick stated he was fully committed to football. But some teams are unconvinced and wonder about his vegan diet," Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reported.
The Palm Beach Post’s Hal Habib reports that according to Michael Thomas, Stephen Ross’ response was that however the players decided to make a statement, "I’ve got y’all’s back 100 percent."
"You can put yourself in a position to be blackballed," Carter said on FS1’s Undisputed. "When he took a knee for the National Anthem, he put himself in a position where he could be blackballed."
"You’ve kind of got to commit to something and do it over and over and over again and once the type of running game or drop-back game, you’re going to commit to one quarterback is completely different than the other, then that does affect your team," he said.
Steve Wyche of the NFL Network references Peter King’s report, reporting that he too has heard teams saying Kaepernick is more focused on "handing out suits to parolees" than playing football.
King wrote, "I spent a long draft weekend with the Niners in California, and there are those in the building who think Kaepernick might actually rather do social justice work full-time than play quarterback."
"They’ve asked, ‘Can he play? Does he want to play?’" Edwards said via USA Today. "The last question I can’t answer. The first question, absolutely. If Kaep makes up his mind, he wouldn’t only go in and make a team, he’d put pressure on somebody to start."
"Colin has been there since January, training with me five days a week," he told SI. "Regardless of the things he’s done off the field. I think he should be on a team."
"Without that national anthem [protest], someone would have signed him by now," Dungy told Newsday. "If you’re seen as a distraction off the field, for whatever reason, you better have a lot of talent going for you. People will overlook it. They always sign talent if they think he’s going to upgrade your team."
He was one of two quarterbacks who worked out with the team. Also mentioned as a possibility is Robert Griffin III. They never sign him. Future reports indicate that the two sides were apart on money, but that’s never confirmed.
"All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue," Giants co-owner John Mara told The MMQB. "If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into."
"We have a starter, but he’s a starter in this league and I can’t imagine that somebody won’t give him a chance to play," Carroll said.
List includes Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Moore, Colt McCoy, A.J. McCarron, Chad Henne, Geno Smith, Drew Stanton, Brock Osweiler/Cody Kessler, Chase Daniel, Derek Anderson, Nick Foles, Ryan Mallett, Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, and Matt Cassel.
Watson said teams want certain types of quarterbacks, but added, "There are many teams and GMs that don’t want to deal with [his protest]."
"I do believe that (he's an NFL starter), yes. He's still in his 20s and has been very successful at the NFL level as a starting quarterback," Harbaugh told the Rich Eisen Show. "My record is well-documented that I think he will win championships before his career is finished."
During an appearance with CBS Sports Radio's "Tiki and Tierney Show," Brees said it was hard to say if he was being blackballed but said if Kaepernick should have a job, "Well, yeah, if he can help the team win, then why not?"
"I think the league is built on middle America, and most of the middle of America is predominantly a white crowd," Bennett told ESPN. "That's just the truth of it. I think race is not something that the NFL wants to be a part of or get behind. But the league is predominantly African-American.
Goodell said on NFL Network’s Rams All-Access event that teams "They're going to do whatever it takes to make their football team better. I believe that if a football team feels that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player, is going to improve that team, they're going to do it."
"It’s a process of just trying to weed you out," Abdul-Rauf said. "This is what I feel is going to happen to [Kaepernick]. They begin to try to put you in vulnerable positions. They play with your minutes, trying to mess up your rhythm. Then they sit you more. Then what it looks like is, well, the guy just doesn’t have it anymore, so we trade him."
"He came to work every day, extremely diligent in terms of his preparation, in terms of his work ethic," Kelly said, via All22.com. "I really enjoyed Kap. I’ve talked to Kap three or four times since. I think he’s a really good player and a really good person, and I really enjoyed coaching him."
Lynch said he told Kaepernick, "I think you are having a little bit of an image crisis in terms of, not so much what you did last year, but people are wondering: Is this most important to you?"
"Everyone thinks it is the stance he took; one of the things you don’t look for is distractions in the locker room," Montana told the Sporting News. He also compared Kaepernick’s style of play to Tim Tebow.
Appearing on the Mike and Mike radio show, Schefter says that while some coaches and GMs have expressed interest in signing Kaepernick, certain owners are preventing it.
Following a back injury to Joe Flacco, head coach John Harbaugh says team could still sign Kaepernick.
Steve Bisciotti said he did not agree with Kaepernick’s protest, expresses concern over signing him and says he’ll confer with fans and Ray Lewis before making any decision.
In his first game out of retirement, Marshawn Lynch sits during the anthem before a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Jack Del Rio said via the Mercury News, "I said, ‘Just so you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I'm going to respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK?' So that's a non-issue for me."
The Seahawks pass rusher said he plans to sit for the entire season. "Of course I'm going to face backlash. This is bigger than me. This is bigger than football. This is bigger than anything that we have any different. This is about people. This is about bringing opportunities to people, giving people equality. This is bigger than a sport," Bennett said.
A large rally gathered outside of the NFL’s Park Avenue headquarters where Kaepernick supporters made their voices heard.
"These are challenging times in America," Hakeem Jeffries, said. "It’s an important moment for people of goodwill including high-profile sports athletes to use their platform to elevate issues of importance to historically disenfranchised communities."
Rodgers told ESPN’s Mina Kimes that he believes Kaepernick’s national anthem protest in 2016 has kept him off of a roster. "He should be on a roster right now," he said. "I think because of his protests, he’s not."
"I'm gonna stand because that's the way I feel about the flag -- but I'm also 100 percent supportive of my teammates or any fellow players who are choosing not to," Rodgers said. "They have a battle for racial equality. That's what they're trying to get a conversation started around."
The MMQB’s Albert Breer publishes a story in which three executives and a coach say that Kaepernick is not being blackballed. The executives question his skill, while the coach says he’s tough to fit into an offense.
"There’s been a lot of noise about this, obviously," an AFC executive told Breer. "But at the end of the day, we’re part of the ultimate meritocracy. So if someone feels like this guy can help win games, he’ll be in the league."
Sporting News’ Kristian Dyer wrote that an NFL GM felt that Kaepernick would be a distraction to a team.
"I have no comment on his views or convictions," the GM told SN. "Those are his own and I don't think a team would sign him or not sign him solely over those actions. My caution — and I think it is echoed by nearly everyone I’ve talked to — is that he's become a distraction. At this point, the way he's handled it, the way he's tweeting and all that garbage, it doesn't help."
Yahoo! Sports published a 2,700+ word letter from Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Bennett, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith intending to push the league to honor activism "similarly to what the league already implements for breast cancer awareness, honoring military, etc." The memo also calls for a league endorsement for an activism awareness month.
During a campaign rally in Hunstville, Ala., for failed Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange, President Trump, in the middle of an 80-minute stump speech, attacked black, protesting athletes.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag, to say 'Get that son of a bitch off the field, right now, out, he's fired!" Trump said. "You know some owner is going to do that. He's gonna say 'that guy disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it. They don't know it. They're friends of mine, many of them. They don't know it. They'll be the most popular person, for a week. They'll be the most popular person in the country."
The NFL called the president's comments "divisive."
On one of the biggest weekends in the NFL season, every team in the league was involved, somehow, in the protests. The Chicago Tribune noted that "more than 200 players" sat or knelt that weekend. The president continued to double down, falsely, on his stance: "This has nothing to do with race," Trump said. "This has to do with respect for our country."
Kapernick filed a grievance with the league regarding claims that he'd been black balled and owners colluded to keep him out of the game of football. Kaepernick hired high-powered lawyer Mark Geragos. His filing demanded an arbitration hearing.
"If the NFL (as well as all professional sports teams) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful protest -- which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago -- should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government," Geragos said in a statement. "Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance."
At a meeting with players and owners, Goodell said that the league hasn't suggested any changes to a policy stating players "should" stand for the "Star Spangled Banner" even though some have assumed the league would be mandating a change.
"We did not ask for it," Goodell said. "We spent today talking about the issues players are trying to bring attention to. Issues in our communities, to make our communities better."
According to the New York Post, Kaepernick signed a deal with an offshoot of Random House called One World. The company currently has publishing deals with Jay-Z and Ta-Nehesi Coates.
According to multiple reports at the time, Kaepernick was said to have been invited by players to attend a meeting with an NFL group to discuss the current wave of NFL protests and actions.
The original proposed meeting players said they invited Kaepernick to was a sham, his legal team told SB Nation. Representation for Kaepernick said they "didn't even know there was a meeting" which led to multiple days of trying to confirm a date for a meeting that was never scheduled.
"It remains inconceivable that actual progress can or will be made at these player meetings if discussions regarding certain ideas and platforms which Mr. Kaepernick has led and created are discussed and negotiated without Mr. Kaepernick being present," a lawyer for Kaepernick said.
According to ESPN, another meeting with NFL brass, this time one-on-one between Kaepernick and Goodell, was cancelled. Kaepernick requested a special mediator be present for the conversation. An NFL spokesperson said that the invitation "isn't about a mediator."
Speaking at Bloomberg's Year Ahead Summit, Goodell doubled-down on his yearlong rhetoric about the need for players to stand during the "Star Spangled Banner." He also said "getting into politics is not something we do."
"People come to our stadiums to be entertained and have fun, not to be protested to," he said.
GQ, which didn't quote Kaepernick in its feature, said he has "grown wise to the power of his silence."
Beyonce would end up presenting him the award in New York City.
The ousted quarterback surprised a room in Beverly Hills at the ACLU's Bill of Rights Dinner to accept an award. Kaepernick was awarded the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award. The Los Angeles Times reported that his name wasn't on the guest list of honorees.
"We all have an obligation no matter the risk, and regardless of reward, to stand up for our fellow men and women who are being oppressed with the understanding that human rights cannot be compromised," Kaepernick told the crowd.
In a move that divided even more of the league and it's consumers, the NFL pledged to give millions over a seven year period and partner with the players for social change. ESPN reported that by giving this money the league effectively hoped to end the peaceful protests Kaepernick began. Owners will vote to finalize the deal in March.
Members of the Player's Coalition, a group of 40 players involved in social justice actions across the league, have left the group after the decision. Many players and onlookers of the league were displeased that Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin effectively became the leaders of this movement and didn't discuss an agreement with the rest of the players.
"The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism," Michael Thomas and Eric Reid said via Twitter. "However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole."
The commissioner told CNBC that Kaepernick is always welcome to have discussions with the league but never said if he should be able to play in the NFL. "We had an open door on that," Goodell said.
"I don't agree with that," Goodell said when asked if Kaepernick was being black balled. "Again, I think our teams are making the best decisions for what they need as a football team."
The 2017 regular season came and went without Kaepernick playing a single snap or being signed to a roster. However, 56 other quarterbacks started a game during the season.
25 quarterbacks signed or re-signed with their teams during the 2018 NFL free agent period, ranging from mega-contracts like the ones for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins and 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo to minor deals for backups like Matt Cassel (Lions) and Brock Osweiler (Dolphins). Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned.
Jones is one of several owners and NFL officials depose over the course of the spring as part of Kaepernick's lawsuit, along with Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Texans owner Bob McNair and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
49ers safety Eric Reid, who protested along with Kaepernick and into the 2017 season, goes unsigned through free agency. In a visit with the Bengals, Reid was asked by team owner Mike Brown if he planned to protest during the anthem this year. Reid said he did not.
Billed as a compromise, despite the fact that the NFLPA was not consulted prior, owner pass a controversial rule that requires players to stand and "show respect" during the national anthem or face fines and suspensions from their teams. The policy also allows teams to stay in the locker room during the national anthem.
"The union's claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL's governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights," the PA said in its statement. The union also claimed that protesting during the anthem does not qualify as a "conduct detrimental" to the league and is therefore does not subject players to discipline.
A nine-page discipline document from the Dolphins obtained by the Associated Press reportedly contains a brief section on "Proper Anthem Conduct." It includes the possibility of "a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine or both" for players who participate in protests during the national anthem. The document is required by league policy and covers a wide range of team disciplinary issues.
In the wake of that document's release, the league and union announce overnight that the policy will be suspended while the two sides "continue working on a resolution."
The arbitrator hearing Colin Kaepernick's collusion case against the NFL ruled against the league after the NFL requested dismissal of the case on the grounds that Kaepernick and his legal team had not presented sufficient evidence to proceed. The decision itself is a big deal with potentially far-reaching consequences.
An image from Nike's campaign, shared on Kaepernick's social media, featured the text "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything" over a close-up of his face.