The quarterback knelt during the “Star-Spangled Banner” as a protest against racial oppression and police violence
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
Two days after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick is looking for a new team to sign with, and sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the quarterback will not continue his national anthem protest during the 2017 season.
Kaepernick didn’t stand for the pregame playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” throughout the entire 2016 season because he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he told Sam Wyche of NFL Media. "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."
The 29-year-old quarterback had originally said that he would continue kneeling during the national anthem until he felt the issues of racial oppression were sufficiently resolved. However, sources told ESPN that Kaepernick wanted turn the focus of his advocacy to the organizations he’s supporting instead of the protests.
In addition to kneeling every week, Kaepernick committed to donating $1 million plus his cut of his 2016 jersey sales to organizations committed to social justice. So far, he’s contributed to organizations including Mothers Against Police Brutality, Black Youth Project 100, Communities United for Police Reform, and Causa Justa/Just Cause.
Kaepernick’s protest is ending much the way it began: quietly. Despite the uproar it eventually garnered, his protest started with little fanfare. No one noticed he hadn’t stood for the anthem during the 49ers first two games of the 2016 preseason. But once approached by the media, he became an outspoken advocate for his causes, and others soon followed.
Multiple players across the league either kneeled or raised a fist in solidarity with Kaepernick. High school athletes took knees in unison before their games. Even women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled prior to a league match for her club team, the Seattle Reign.
Of course, Kaepernick—no stranger to backlash—will face another one now that he’s ended his protest.
Yet, not everyone has been so harsh on the embattled quarterback.