A year ago, Colin Kaepernick—as an injured San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback during an exhibition game—began his practice of sitting during the pregame rendition of the national anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said of his protest. Through the season, even as he regained the starting gig for 11 games, Kaepernick continued his demonstration.
Of course, his protest wasn’t exactly well-received. Kaepernick faced near-universal revulsion from NFL team offices, and fared little better among the sports commentariat. President Obama and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have opined about his protest. President Trump—echoing a large percentage of Americans—has boasted about his role in keeping Kaepernick out of a job. After the quarterback chose to enter free agency in March, the same front offices that criticized him refused to offer him roster spots, even over marginal talents.
Less than a month away from the start of the regular season, Kaepernick is still out in the cold. Last weekend, the Miami Dolphins chose to sign the quarterback Jay Cutler over Kaepernick—and Cutler is coming out of retirement and is reportedly very much out of shape. Though the Baltimore Ravens’s coach and general manager both reported interest in Kaepernick and endorsed his skills, the business side of the operation has refused to offer him a contract, even as the team signed David Olson, a guy who last played for something called the Champions Indoor Football league. But despite the increasing likelihood that he will lose his spot in the NFL, Kaepernick has persisted in his activism. It seems, even, that this is the outcome for which he was prepared all along.