LeBron James: Kaepernick being blackballed by NFL because of anthem protests

There's a strong faction in America that believes the reason former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn't been signed by an NFL team this season is because of his stance on taking a knee during the national anthem.

Kaepernick has even filed a collusion grievance that claims NFL owners worked together to keep him out of a job. According to comments he made on Sunday, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James agrees that Kaepernick would be playing in the NFL were it not for his well-publicized protests. Via ESPN's Dave McMenamin:

"I love football, but I'm not part of the NFL," James told ESPN following the Cleveland Cavaliers' practice Sunday. "I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap (Kaepernick) is getting a wrong doing, I do know that. Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that.

" ... The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

James went on to compare Kaepernick to Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali.

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James continued. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature. When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong. For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

The day before the NBA Finals began in June, James' Los Angeles home was defaced with racist graffiti. He gave a powerful response after the incident, and echoed those sentiments to ESPN on Sunday.

"I mean, s---, when you're born black you're faced with discrimination," James said. "It just comes with the territory. So our whole life we're just trying to figure out ways how we can represent our family, represent us, be as powerful as we can be not only as African-American males, but African-American women as well. That's why we're so strong and that's why we're so prideful about what we believe in because when we're born, we're already born behind the eight ball. When you're born African-American, you always got to do things more than the norm just because you're black. So when you go through that, you got to understand that. And me being African-American myself and raising an African-American family and having African-American people around me all the time, we understand that we have to work even extra hard because there's just always a 'prove' thing. We always got to try to prove ourselves."  

Winners of four straight games after a slow start to the season, James and the Cavs take on the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

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