Photo Credit: Sporting News
On Friday, April 29th, 2011, the world watched as Nevada Wolfpack star quarterback Colin Kaepernick was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 4th pick in the 2nd round (36th overall pick) in the NFL Draft.
On the night of Monday, November 19th, 2012, the world watched as Kaepernick took over as the 49ers’ starting quarterback following Alex Smith’s injury the week before in a 24-24 tie game against the St. Louis Rams. He led the 49ers to a 32-7 blowout victory over the Chicago Bears to send the 49ers to a 7-2-1 record and drop the Bears to 7-3.
On Saturday, January 12th, 2013, the world watched as Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 45-31 Divisional Round playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers in the final playoff game ever at the famous Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.
On Sunday, January 20th, 2013, the world watched as Kaepernick, in just his 9th career start, lifted the 49ers to a 28-24 road win over the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game to lock up a berth in Super Bowl XLVII, the 49ers’ first Super Bowl appearance since January of 1995.
Apparently, that type of attention was not enough for Kaepernick, as we would find out a few years down the road, or so it appeared to many.
It only got worse from here. On Sunday, February 3rd, 2013, the world watched as Kaepernick put the 49ers in a position to become the second NFL team ever to win six Super Bowl titles. Leading the team to within three points after trailing by a score of 28-6 to the Baltimore Ravens, Kaepernick looked poised to become Super Bowl MVP in just his 10th career NFL start. However, the 49ers came up just short of the victory, losing by a score of 34-31.
On Sunday, January 19th, 2014, the world watched as Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman tipped up Kaepernick’s potential Super Bowl berth-sealing touchdown pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree. The world watched linebacker Malcolm Smith intercept the pass and seal the 49ers’ fate.
They watched Richard Sherman rant about Kaepernick’s decision to try him with a “sorry receiver” like Crabtree in a post-game interview.
They watched a 49ers team struggle mightily in the two seasons to follow. An 8-8 effort in the 2014-2015 season and a 5-11 effort in the 2015-2016 keep Sherman’s infamous rant as San Francisco’s most recent playoff memory.
They watched on Sunday, August 14th, 2016, and Saturday, August 20th, 2016 as Kaepernick sat during the national anthem in the 49ers’ preseason games against the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos, respectively. It was not until Friday, August 26th, however, that Kaepernick began gaining attention for his protest.
Via SB Nation (Kaepernick quoted on Sunday, August 28th, 2016):
“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
“This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”
“It’s something that can unify this team. It’s something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from.”
“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought have for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.”
Slowly but surely, players joined in on his protest and began doing so themselves throughout the season. The protest was not limited to only NFL players, either.
The world then watched the 49ers go 2-14 in the 2016-2017 season, beating only the Los Angeles Rams twice.
On, Friday, March 3rd, 2017, Kaepernick, 29, opted out of his contract with the 49ers. Earlier that day, he announced that he would begin standing for the national anthem next season. He claimed that he had seen good change come as a result of his protest.
However, many have speculated that Kaepernick committed to this so that he would not miss out on the opportunity to play for an NFL team next season. After all, an anonymous NFL manager said that 70% of teams genuinely hate him, especially because of the controversy he caused as a result of his protest.
The things that Kaepernick has done since the protest, and particularly recently, have all been good things for the most part. Since the protest began, he has donated over $1 million to community organizations to help underprivileged people. He has also recently helped to get an airplane to Somalia to bring food and water to the people there. In addition to that, he has sent donations to Meals-on-Wheels.
So how could this possibly make him a sellout? After all, these things are genuinely good deeds that anybody should be respected for.
This is not meant to take away from any of the good deeds that he is doing. Yes, he has done some bad things too, like disrespecting (yes, disrespecting) the American flag during the national anthem and wearing a Fidel Castro shirt on multiple occasions (who does that??). But the following reasoning does not in any way take away from the fact that he is indeed helping the community now.
Many people have raised question as to whether or not Kaepernick would have stopped this protest or whether or not he would still be doing these good deeds if he definitely had an NFL team to play for in the upcoming season. He never did great deeds like this before, and even if he did, there was nowhere near the amount of media coverage as he is getting now following the protest.
Many people believe that Kaepernick may have abandoned his protest because of the negative vibe it was creating for him as opposed to leaving the protest willingly because of the change he thinks he created through it. After all, he openly admitted that he did not even vote in the 2016 Presidential Election despite saying he wanted to see change.
People also think that these various good deeds are Kaepernick’s way of trying to look good again and become far less controversial so that he can once again be the starting quarterback of an NFL team without that team running the risk of him becoming a distraction to their organization.
After all, Kaepernick’s statistics last season were not terrible by any means. In 12 games, he completed 196 of his 331 passes (59.2%) for 2,241 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions. He also ran the ball 69 times for 468 rushing yards (6.8 average rushing yards per carry) and 2 rushing touchdowns. Yet he is still hated by many teams, likely because of the distraction factor.
This whole situation of stopping his protest and performing so many good deeds seems to fit together like a puzzle. If it is true that Kaepernick is only doing these good deeds to look better in the eyes of the public and to NFL teams and owners, which only he knows for sure in his heart, that would make him a sellout and turn his whole protest into a fraud.
However, we cannot forget one important thing regardless of whether or not this is why he is doing what he is doing.
Whether or not Kaepernick is doing what he is doing for attention or to regain a good public standing, he is still doing it. Like I said above, this reasoning is not meant to take away from any of the good deeds that he is doing. He is helping the community, and that is far from a bad thing.
Despite the fact that many questions remain as to Kaepernick’s motives behind what he is doing, the only thing we know for sure is that he is doing what he is doing. Only he truly knows why he is doing it. Yes, why he is doing it does matter a little bit. However, what matters the most is that he is doing it to begin with and is making a positive difference, which is what he claimed his goal was from the start.