Updated June 4th, 2020 at 19:05 IST
Was Colin Kaepernick fired from the 49ers? Why did NFL star cut ties with the team?
Was Colin Kaepernick fired from the 49ers? The QB hasn't played in the NFL since 2016 - the year he started protesting by kneeling during the national anthem.
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NFL player turned civil rights activist, Colin Kaepernick, last played in the competition in 2016. He has been a free agent since March 2017 and despite conducting a private workout session last year, Kaepernick's chances of returning to the NFL look bleak. While it is common knowledge that he himself opted out of his contract at San Francisco 49ers, fans still wonder - 'Was Colin Kaepernick fired from the 49ers?' and 'Why did Colin Kaepernick leave the 49ers?'
Was Colin Kaepernick fired from the 49ers? Colin Kaepernick kneeling movement
On August 26, 2016, during a pre-season game between San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, the then-49ers quarterback opted against standing during the national anthem. As a sign of protest against rising racial injustice and police brutality against minority communities in the US, Kaepernick instead chose to kneel during the national anthem as opposed to the customary standing. Kaepernick continued his protest throughout the entirety of 2016 NFL season.
Before getting to how his protest was treated by the league and the fans, it is important to be noted that Kaepernick had not informed the 49ers about his plan to kneel during the national anthem. According to the quarterback, he was not looking for approval and only wanted to stand up for people who are oppressed.
Was Colin Kaepernick fired from the 49ers? Polarising reactions for the protest
The Colin Kaepernick kneeling movement was generally subject to polarising reactions. On the one hand, his actions were praised by several African-American athletes and celebrities in the United States. On the other hand, Kaepernick was largely criticised for disrespecting the United States, primarily the armed forces of the country.
Was Colin Kaepernick fired from the 49ers? Why did Colin Kaepernick leave the 49ers?
The 49ers finished the controversial 2016 season fourth in the NFC Western Division with a dismal 2-14 record. Despite drawing polarising reactions for the Colin Kaepernick kneeling movement, the quarterback played 12 games for the struggling 49ers. In March 2017, with the last year of his contract remaining, Kaepernick announced his decision to opt out of his contract and enter free agency.
According to reports, the 49ers had told Kaepernick that he would be released by the franchise. The 49ers explained their decision, stating that Kaepernick did not fit into incoming head coach Kyle Shanahan's plans. However, media speculation at the time suggested Kaepernick's controversial protest was one of the primary reasons behind his ousting from San Francisco.
Was Colin Kaepernick fired from the 49ers? Colin Kaepernick NFL ban?
While it was expected that Kaepernick would be snapped by another franchise ahead of the 2017 season, a move failed to materialise for the quarterback. Till date, the quarterback remains a free agent. He severed his relationship with the league in 2017 after he filed a grievance claiming the owners are colluding against him in order to keep him out of the NFL. In February 2019, the grievance was reportedly settled after both parties reached a confidential settlement.
With both sides appearing to be back on good terms, the NFL organised a private workout session for the quarterback last year in Atlanta. Scouts from the 32 teams were expected to attend the session while mediapersons were barred. Just 30 minutes prior to the workout session, Kaepernick abruptly changed his workout location to a nearby school in Atlanta to allow media to attend the session. However, the sudden change meant scouts from only seven NFL franchises attended the session.
Kaepernick appears to have redeemed himself in front of his critics as his kneeling movement gained momentum after the recent incident of police brutality against George Floyd. Kaepernick showed his full support for the protests against Floyd's death and has also started a fund to pay to the legal representation of the arrested protesters. As per reports, several NFL sides and players are planning to bring back the Colin Kaepernick kneeling movement during the 2020 pre-season as a sign of NFL's fight against racism. Whether it will translate to Kaepernick's return to the league, remains to be seen.
Published June 4th, 2020 at 19:05 IST