In the summer of 2016, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterbackColin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem to protest the rampant racial discrimination and police brutality in the United States.
Kaepernick’s peaceful yet impactful protest soon ballooned into a massive social movement as many followed in his footsteps to send out a powerful message to the authorities.
While many applauded the athlete’s commitment to highlight racial disparities in the country, there were also critics who ignored Kaepernick’s stated intentions and instead accused him of being unpatriotic and disrespectful of the national anthem.
In fact, President Donald Trump went ahead and told Kaepernick and his supporters to find another country that works better for them.
Unfortunately, apart from the widespread criticism and backlash, the player’s refusal to stand up for the national anthem also costed him his career.
It has been over 500 days since Kaepernick was effectively banned from the NFL. This wasn’t a typical case of unemployment, as he was unquestionably frozen out for his political opinions.
What’s even more extraordinary is how a player like him, who was considered by experts to be around the 15th best quarterback in the NFL, is still unable to find a job.
When the free agent kicked off the start of a new football season around March, the NFL made it painfully clear that Kaepernick was still not wanted. As players who were much less talented than him bagged several new deals, while Kaepernick worked out privately on a field in Houston with the help of his private trainers, apparently in hopes of restarting the game that he was very good at it.
However, it seems the player’s optimism might be a little misplaced.
The bitter reality is even after all this time, a league that grants second chances to drunk drivers, domestic abusers and performance-enhancing drug users, Kaepernick is being denied the right to make a living in the sport he knows and loves.
Just a couple of months ago, in an apparent bid to silence the players who peacefully protested the systematic racism in the country, National Football League (NFL) owners warned of a penalty the players could be subjected to if they continued to kneel during the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
It won’t be entirely wrong to say the owners caved in to some sort of pressure from the POTUS, as since the beginning of the controversy, Trump has made several repeated personal attacks against the athlete.
So, instead of respecting the players’ freedom of expression and actually encouraging more political discussion about racism in the country, the NFL took the easier and more cowardly route: doing as the president demanded and inflating his ego.
Kaepernick’s cry for the oppressed spread beyond the football field and resonated with many, turning it into a national debate. However, his compassion and dedication costed him a great deal and it is yet to be seen if there’s any team out there who would bring the man back to where he rightfully deserves to be.
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