Colin Kaepernick will stand, going forward.
For the national anthem, that is.
Kaepernick made all sorts of headlines in the 2016-2017 NFL season for electing to kneel during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner as a form of protest. According to the website Bleacher Report, the quarterback reportedly told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he’s moving away from the expression because he is of the belief that continuing to protest in that way would take away from the progress he says has been made in the realm of addressing the problems of inequality.
In a conversation last season with NFL.com’s Steve Wyche, Kaepernick explained his decision to begin protesting at all this way:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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.”
While Kaepernick is ascribing more noble motivations to the decision to bench his protests, others aren’t so sure that the move isn’t rooted in self-interest. Kaepernick had an underwhelming season last year as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, first losing the starting job to Blaine Gabbert, and then going 1-10 in the 11 games he started for the Niners. On the heels of that performance, Kaepernick recently opted out of his contract before the team could cut him, and, according to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, “several” NFL teams have said they would not consider signing Kaepernick if he intended to continue his protest.
Players on other teams joined Kaepernick in similarly protesting during the national anthem during last season, and the trend was roundly criticized by fans. What’s more, although the league denies it, it is widely believed that the protests started by Kaepernick contributed to the diminished television ratings suffered by the NFL throughout much of the season.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large