Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick accepted an invitation Tuesday to attend a private NFL training session, years after a contentious relationship with the league that stemmed from his leading a civil rights protest on ― and eventually off ― the field.
“I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday,” Kaepernick tweeted Tuesday evening. “I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.”
In August, Kaepernick marked three years since he began his protest against police brutality and racial injustice by refusing to stand for the national anthem at an NFL game alongside Eric Reid, who is still playing in the league. The former quarterback shared a video on Aug. 14 honoring Black victims of police violence, including Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Philando Castile. Police have killed at least 223 Black people in the United States in the year after Kaepernick first began his protests.
Kaepernick has been unsigned since the season he began protesting in 2016, opting out of his contract with the 49ers and becoming a free agent ever since. He settled a lawsuit with the NFL in February for an undisclosed amount after accusing the league of blackballing him for the protest despite having a decent 2016 season, with a passer rating of 90.7 that should statistically give him an advantage over several quarterbacks currently in the league.
The concept of refusing to stand for the national anthem has been a hot-button topic nationwide thanks to Kaepernick’s protest. Many who didn’t want to understand Kaepernick’s reasoning felt he was being disrespectful toward the flag, and in turn the U.S., by kneeling during the anthem. President Donald Trump was one of those critics, encouraging fans to boycott the NFL and referring to NFL protesters as sons of bitches in 2017.
Others supported the athlete’s movement, including other athletes in professional, college and high school-level leagues who joined in calls to protest police brutality. Several fellow NFL players, such as Michael Bennett and Malcolm Jenkins, joined in the protests.
While staying out of the league, Kaepernick has kept himself busy by continuing to be one of today’s civil rights leaders. Sports Illustrated named him the 2017 Muhammad Ali Legacy Award recipient for his activism, and he was honored that same year as GQ’s Citizen of the Year. Nike teamed up with Kaepernick to launch a controversial, inspiring commercial in which the former football player says: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” That commercial won a Creative Arts Emmy in September.
But the athlete’s representatives said in October that Kaepernick is still working out and ready to play in the NFL again.
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