Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has received some unlikely support in his quest to find a new team: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke out this weekend about his former NFC rival, noting that he believes taking a knee during the national anthem has kept Kaepernick unsigned thus far.
“I think he should be on a roster right now,” said Rodgers. “I think because of his protests; he’s not.”
While Rodgers doesn’t plan on taking a knee before games anytime soon, he did acknowledge that he supports anyone brave enough to do so, especially given the public backlash and overwhelming disapproval. He respects the fact that Kaepernick and others have chosen a peaceful way to protest what they view as injustice in the system, and he has even spoken with new teammate tight end Martellus Bennett about the issues being represented and fought for.
“I’m gonna stand because that’s the way I feel about the flag—but I’m also 100 percent supportive of my teammates or any fellow players who are choosing not to,” said Rodgers. “They have a battle for racial equality. That’s what they’re trying to get a conversation started around. I think the best way I can say this is: I don’t understand what it’s like to be in that situation. What it is to be pulled over, or profiled, or any number of issues that have happened, that Colin was referencing—or any of my teammates have talked to me about.”
Kaepernick, the 2011 second-round pick, sprung to instant stardom after leading the Niners to Super Bowl XLVII his rookie season filling in for the injured Alex Smith. During the 2016 season, Kaepernick began to take a knee during the national anthem before games, citing unjustified killings by police which received heavy news coverage around that time.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick last August when the protests went mainstream. “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.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear that, while some of the NFL’s sponsors were not happy with the protest and some blamed Kaepernick for the league’s huge rating drop in 2016, teams are free to sign the quarterback if they wish. There’s no secret order from the top preventing them from picking up Kaep.
“Those are independent decisions that clubs make,” said Goodell, actually keeping his nose out of something it doesn’t belong in for once. “Clubs are going to do what they think is in the best interest of their franchise and what it is that they can do to win.”
Kaepernick has pledged $1 million to helping “organizations working in oppressed communities” and has promised to end his protest should he be on the field come 2017.
While many people may disagree with Kaepernick and his movement, you have to give him this: he got his message out there, and he did it without violence. In a political climate today where both sides of each and every issue feel the need to riot and rally, it’s nice to see a peaceful demonstration. And while no everyone likes it, Kaepernick is using his platform for something he sees as a necessary good.
And, if you don’t like it, you probably won’t have to worry about it anyway, as his chances aren’t looking good right now (barring an injured starter).