It’s almost the end of preseason, and Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent. A survey of NFL executives and evaluators showed Kaepernick is a top-30 quarterback in the NFL, and while those in the survey admitted Kaep’s national anthem protests played a role in his enduring free agency, they also explained the situation is more nuanced.
But Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers thinks the situation is actually pretty simple. In an ESPN profile by Mina Kimes, Rodgers said he believes Kaepernick deserves a roster spot, and the only reason he hasn’t been signed is because of his national anthem protests:
“I think he should be on a roster right now,” he says. “I think because of his protests, he’s not.”
Rodgers reiterated that he will keep standing for the national anthem, but he also supports his teammates and other players around the league who choose to sit, kneel or protest in some other manner.
“They have a battle for racial equality. That’s what they’re trying to get a conversation started around.”
I ask him what he thinks about that battle — the actual subject of Kaepernick’s protest. As always, he pauses to collect his thoughts. “I think the best way I can say this is: I don’t understand what it’s like to be in that situation. What it is to be pulled over, or profiled, or any number of issues that have happened, that Colin was referencing — or any of my teammates have talked to me about.”
Rodgers has had many conversations with teammates Randall Cobb and Martellus Bennett about the challenges people of color face in America. Cobb called Rodgers a “sponge” when it comes to learning about and understanding social issues. Bennett, an offseason acquisition for the Packers, has not protested during the anthem, although his brother, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, has become one of the movement’s leaders. Martellus has channelled his fight for social justice through a different medium: political cartooning.
Here's my first political cartoon. Dedicated to my brother @mosesbread72 and all of the other athletes using their platform to promote change. As I've been saying it seems as if "you can use the platform provided to promote products but not to promote change to the products of your environment." I've read a lot of the hate mail and comments sent to my brother as well as the ones sent to me. This illustration is how I feel about it all. here's to those willing to risk it all to promote change. #martyland #theimaginationagency #createdbymarty
Last week, an NFL owner finally showed public support for Kaepernick. Jaguars owner Shad Khan said he would “absolutely” sign Kaepernick if his front office recommended him. The Jaguars have plenty of issues at quarterback considering Blake Bortles and Chad Henne have both been pretty terrible.
Many other sports figures, such as MLB Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, have supported Kaepernick through this whole ordeal. But it’s seeming less and less likely that we’ll see him play in the 2017 season.