Quarterback Colin Kaepernick got on his knees at the US anthem to demonstrate against racism in 2016 - and angered the NFL and Donald Trump. He's been ostracized ever since, but now the Las Vegas Raiders are giving Kaepernick a chance. Maybe the team is already thinking about the Super Bowl 2024.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick last played pro football in 2016 -- the year he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. Now the 34-year-old trained with the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday, as the TV broadcaster ESPN announced. And is therefore possibly facing a comeback in the best football league in the world, which would be a sensation.
In 2016, Kaepernick let out a cry for justice, which he did not silence despite the massive headwind - even if he was declared persona non grata in his sport and in the US majority society. When Kaepernick got on his knees during the national anthem before his NFL games, the majority-white owners of the football teams, the white NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the white then-US presidential candidate Donald Trump were incensed. His action has been denounced as disrespectful to the US flag and soldiers who died for it, as a betrayal of the fatherland.
Trump made the quarterback a traitor to the country and delivered, well below the belt, "Get that son of a bitch off the field, now!" Many NFL fans joined the protest against Kaepernick. The footballer was booed, and anti-Kaepernick T-shirts were sold outside stadiums, some with his face in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. His shirts were burned nationwide.
For the then 29-year-old quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers - who has had his ups and downs in his football career, but in previous years has repeatedly wowed the crowds with incredibly fast runs and precise passes, in two NFC championship games and a Super Bowl and had the fifth-best touchdown-to-interceptions ratio of all time - my days as a pro football player are over. Few players and fans supported his protest actions. In March 2017, Kaepernick left his team despite a contract option. Viewers shouted "U-S-A, U-S-A" at him as if he hated his country. "I don't see what's un-American about fighting for freedom and justice for all, for the equality that this country stands for," Kaepernick replied.
Kaepernick is ostracized - to this day. The wind turned with the worldwide protests for Black Lives Matter after white police officers murdered black American George Floyd and even the NFL said it encouraged teams to invite Kaepernick to practice. But Kaepernick not only hasn't signed a contract with a team, he hasn't even been allowed to audition since his ban until yesterday Wednesday. The Seattle Seahawks decided against his commitment in 2017 despite a meeting with Kaepernick after his departure from San Francisco, which head coach Pete Carroll later regretted. Kaepernick's comeback attempt in 2019 with a public training session, to which seven teams appeared, also ended unsuccessfully.
The Raiders currently have Derek Carr as their starting quarterback, but Kaepernick recently hinted that he would also join a team as a backup playmaker. The Raiders' owner, Mark Davis, would follow in the spirit of his late father, Al Davis, who hired the NFL's first black head coach (Art Shell) and first female CEO (Amy Trask) by signing the outlaw. The elder Davis was also the first team owner to sign a black quarterback (Eldridge Dickey) in the first round of the draft and the second to hire a Hispanic head coach (Tom Flores).
In an April interview with the I Am Athlete podcast, Kaepernick said he wanted to finally win the Super Bowl after coming so close with the 49ers. In February 2013, San Francisco lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens. Maybe the outcast will get another chance with the Las Vegas Raiders. In 2024, the Super Bowl will appropriately take place in the gaming paradise.