Jesse Jackson: Owners 'have colluded' to keep Colin Kaepernick out of NFL

The 2017 regular-season is less than two weeks away and Colin Kaepernick remains out of work. Depending on who you ask, the reasons vary from "he's being blackballed by the league because he knelt during the national anthem last season" (as a form of protest against social injustice, it should be noted) to "he just hasn't played well enough the last few years."

Rev. Jesse Jackson firmly falls into the former category. On Friday, he said during an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher" that NFL owners "have colluded" to keep Kaepernick from playing.

"They have decided not to have him play and he should have the right to play and express himself at the same time," he told Maher, adding later, "He's not burning the flag, he's not hustling drugs to teammates, he's not shooting people with guns."

In May, Giants co-owner John Mara said fans complained about Kaepernick's anthem protest.

"All my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue," Mara told's Jenny Vrentas at the time. "If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game. It wasn't one or two letters. It was a lot. It's an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I've run into."

And in early August, after Ravens considered signing Kaepernick, team owner Steve Bisciotti said that he had been asked by a fan about Kaepernick hurting the organization's brand. Bisciotti said that he has reached out to former players, including Ray Lewis, for their thoughts.

"We're sensitive to [what signing Kaepernick might mean]," the owner said. "We're monitoring it, and we're trying to figure out what's the right tact. So pray for us."

Bisciotti added that he didn't like Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem last season, and he isn't convinced that adding Kaepernick to the roster makes the Ravens a better team.

Kaepernick, who played for the 49ers from 2011-16, began last season on the bench behind Blaine Gabbert, but was reinserted into the starting lineup in mid-October. When it was over, he had started 11 games and completed 59.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed 69 times for 468 yards and two scores. But according to Football Outsiders' metrics, Kaepernick ranked 30th among all quarterbacks, just ahead of Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Osweiler and Jared Goff.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson joined CBS Sports in June 2011. He covers the NFL and NFL Draft for and CBS Sports HQ, and is a regular on the Pick Six Podcast. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from... Full Bio

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