Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s kneeling protest against police violence and other activism during the 2016-2017 NFL season inspired solidarity actions and a broader conversation about athletes’ social responsibility. But an article published by Bleacher Report on Friday (March 17) suggests that many NFL executives don’t want to hire him.
"He can still play at a high level," an anonymous general manager told writer Mike Freeman about Kaepernick, who opted out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. "The problem is three things are happening with him." He explains the issues as follows:
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."
This Bleacher Report account follows another from September in which anonymous NFL executives revealed their disgust with Kaepernick’s actions. "He has no respect for our country," said one. "Fuck that guy."
The report added that unlike other free-agent quarterbacks, Kaepernick has not been openly courted by any teams. His ongoing non-employment prompted director and New York City sports fan Spike Lee to implore his hometown New York Jets to draft Kaepernick in an Instagram post yesterday (March 19). "The question remains what owner and [general manager] is going to step up and sign Colin so their team has a better chance to win?" he wrote. "What crime has Colin committed? Look at the QBs of all 32 teams. This is some straight up shenanigans, subterfuge, skullduggery and BS. Ya-dig?"
Citing anonymous sources, ESPN reported on March 3 that Kaepernick, if hired, will begin standing for the national anthem during next season’s games. One source said that he doesn’t want his kneeling to distract from the discussions on structural racism that he sought to inspire.
As for his current actions, CBS Sports reported Saturday (March 18) that Kaepernick raised funds this weekend to support a campaign to send an airplane filled with food and water to support Somalis enduring a nationwide famine.