Colin Kaepernick dominated headlines in 2016 when he decided to take a knee during the national anthem in peaceful protest of social injustice and police brutality in America -- a decision that had nothing to do with the anthem or flag itself. Since his split from the San Francisco 49ers that following March, he's been unable to find work in the league, despite his vocal willingness to play backup and the myriad of opportunities to do so having continually come and gone. Teams opted instead to add less proven players as backups, and often despite pleas from players on their respective teams, and Kaepernick ultimately filed a collusion suit against the NFL that resulted in both sides settling out of court.
With the murder of George Floyd at the hands of officers within the Minneapolis Police Department -- all four now fired and facing charges that include second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder -- a maelstrom of global protests that include NFL players hasfor not listening in 2016, leaving many to call for the league to lift its ban on Kaepernick.
Those wondering if the 32-year-old still wants to play now have their answer, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, with Kaepernick reportedly being in great shape and "more motivated to play than ever" before. And what was once split support within the league at the player level has evolved into a tidal wave of players speaking up on Kaepernick's behalf. More now than ever before and amid Black Lives Matter protests he helped spark with his decision to kneel in 2016, pressure is being applied to the NFL to take the next step and return Kaepernick to the league.
"I think [the NFL] referenced that they have made mistakes in terms of how they've handled peaceful protests and players voicing their opinions," Ryan said, via ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "I think they've recognized that they've made mistakes there. And as far as Colin being back in the league, I think he should have every opportunity to. He created awareness for a situation that, it's taken some time, but people are becoming more active in terms of their response to it.
"I think, from that standpoint, his protest is being heard at this point, but it's taken too long. But I think he should have every opportunity to have a job and to have a spot at this point."
"I think the NFL can start by signing [Kaepernick] back," Hyde said, via ESPN's Brady Henderson. "I think if they sign Kap back, that'll show that they're really trying to move in a different direction. Because [he] was making a statement four years ago about what's going on in today's world and the NFL didn't bother to listen to him then, so I think they should start by doing that."
Kaepernick recently attempted to woo NFL teams in a 2019 workout appointed by the league's front office in coordination with several clubs, but the wheels fell off due to waiver disagreements that ultimately -- attending and pointing at the last-minute changes as the reason. In an impassioned speech following the workout, Kaepernick challenged the NFL to embrace the fight for social injustice and to give him a chance at returning to football.