NEW YORK — Several hundred Colin Kaepernick supporters flocked to the steps of NFL headquarters to rally for the free agent to receive another opportunity to play in the NFL a year after he kneeled during the national anthem at a San Francisco 49ers home game.
Kaepernick decided to take a protest against police brutality and oppression of African Americans. Now, as the 32 teams prepare for their third preseason games this weekend, reality is starting to set in that the most talked-about player will not be on the field.
Many have made the argument that Kap is not in the best football shape anymore, although it’s only been five seasons since he led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII.
And Kaepernick’s decision – and the discussion it created on racial discrimination and politcy brutality — will continue to reverberate throughout the NFL, whether or not the “stick to sports” crowd likes it. This season, players already have followed in his footsteps of protest. The Cleveland Browns had the largest national anthem protest as 12 players took a knee at the Aug. 21 game against the New York Giants. Browns tight end Seth Devale became the first white player to take a knee since the protest began last year.
The rally outside NFL headquarters on Wednesday evening was started as a small Facebook event and grew to hundreds of protesters from across the nation. Celebrities and public figures like Olympic Bronze Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, Tamika Mallory, co-chair of Women’s March, and “Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down” author David Zirin were among the demonstrators, many of whom wore number 7 jerseys and waved anti-NFL signs on the front steps of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office.
“As a Packers fan, I watched him beat the Packers in the playoffs. So I know he’s good,” Christopher Standish, a white male, said “The fact that he can’t find a team is more than a coincidence. A lot of people compare what he’s done to other players who have committed misdeeds. If you’re really into the national anthem, then I guess you can call what he did a misdeed when in fact, he hasn’t done anything wrong. I want to show union in being here and supporting what he’s standing up for.”
The Justice League NYC, the NAACP and other advocacy groups organized the event.
“We believe that the NFL. has been complicit in the ostracization of Colin Kaepernick,” said Symone Sanders, a Democratic strategist and CNN political analyst. “And today, it is time for
the NFL to take a stand.”