Colin Kaepernick has been the center of much controversy, especially since his departure from the 49ers.
On March 1, 2017, Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, becoming a free agent. The departure from the team came at a time that Kaepernick was facing much criticism, as well as support, for kneeling during the national anthem. Since then, Kaepernick has been struggling to find work in the NFL, despite being an accomplished player, which many believe is down to his political protests.
Read a timeline of key moments in Colin Kaepernick’s NFL protest.
The Day it Began
On August 26, 2016, Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the national anthem. It’s not the first time he’s done this, but this time his actions are noticed by reporters. After the game he gives a statement to the media:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said, referencing the statistically high number of black people killed by police.
The following day, both the 49ers and the NFL issued statements detailing that although they encourage players to stand for the anthem, it is not required.
On August 30, former footballer Nate Boyer wrote an open letter encouraging Colin to kneel instead of sit, out of respect, while still drawing attention to injustice.
On September 1, Colin kneels during the national anthem and is joined by teammate Eric Reid. Both of them repeat the protest for the remainder of the season.
After the game, Colin pledges a $1 million donation to relevant organizations.
He also clarified that his protest was not “anti-American” and that he respects military men and women, but that he takes issue with police brutality and discrepancies in opportunity for people of color.
Watch Kaepernick defend his protest in this 2016 news clip:
On September 3, Blaine Gabbert is given the starting quarterback position over Colin Kaepernick, who is still recovering from surgeries due to injury.
On September 5, President Barack Obama defended Colin’s right to protest.
September 11, on the first Sunday of the season, many players follow Colin’s lead.
The following day, presidential candidate Donald Trump criticizes Colin and other plays for the protest.
On March 1, 2017, representatives for Colin informed other NFL teams that the player is opting out of his contract with the 49ers, to become a free agent.
On March 18, after less-accomplished players are signed as free agents and Colin is not, suspicion grows that the player is being blackballed due to his political protests.
On June 5, The Seahawks, who had shown interest in Colin issued a statement, stating they are no longer interested in signing him, although they don’t clearly state the reason why.
One year after Colin’s first protest, hundreds of supporters rally outside the New York NFL headquarters in solidarity.
On September 22, Trump remarks to supporters, in reference to Colin, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.”
Two days later, many players from numerous teams joined the protest at games. Trump tells the players to “stop disrespecting our Flag & Country.”
On October 6, Vice President Mike Pence leaves a football game after players protest, and later says, “[President Trump] and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”
On October 15, Colin starts a lawsuit alleging that NFL owners have illegitimately blackballed him.
On March 15, 2018, another free agency period begins, with Colin unsigned.
On May 23, 2018, the NFL introduced a rule that players must stand to the anthem, or else remain in the locker room. The statement is praised by Trump the following day.
On February 15, 2019, Kaepernick and Reid, who also embarked in a legal battle against the NFL reached a confidential settlement. The Wall Street Journal later reports that the figure paid out was less than $10 million.
On May 30, 2020, The NFL released a statement in regard to the death of George Floyd, which attracted heavy backlash, due to the NFL’s unsupportive stance to Colin’s protests.
On June 5, 2020, another statement is released in which Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL says, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
Many criticized Goodell for not mentioning Colin Kaepernick by name.