“This country stands for freedom, liberty, and justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”

These are the words Colin Kaepernick spoke last year when asked why he didn’t stand for the national anthem. Fast forward 12 months later and he finds himself unemployed in the NFL. Going into last season, Kaepernick made it known that he wanted a raise, although his play always didn’t reflect that. Now he understands where his talent level stands in the league after finishing 1-11 on a poor San Francisco 49ers team in 2016. He isn’t elite. He isn’t a top 10 and not even a top 15 quarterback in the league. But he is certainly in the top 32.

Yet for some reason, he went on a tour of boos every road game he played after he spoke those words of “it’s not happening for all right now.” People said not standing for the anthem was disrespectful to the country.

Critics didn’t acknowledge the cause he was standing, or rather not standing for. Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice didn’t receive the justice that all are supposed to have in the country. Black people, in general, aren’t treated as well as “all” in the country. In March, we published a column that Kaepernick not being signed yet goes beyond his protest. Since he’s a cultural icon now, whatever team signs him will have a media circus following, similar to the outspoken White Christian Tim Tebow. There’s a difference between Tebow’s shut out and Kaepernick’s, however. Tebow was given a second chance by the New York Jets. Then he was given a third chance by the New England Patriots. Then he was given a fourth chance with the Philadelphia Eagles. Meanwhile, as of the start of the preseason, Kaepernick hasn’t even gotten his second chance yet. A season after throwing 16 touchdowns and four interceptions, he hasn’t received the same “justice for all” other NFL quarterbacks get, including Jay Cutler.

The Miami Dolphins signed Cutler to a one-year, $10M deal this past weekend over Kaepernick after throwing four touchdowns and five interceptions last season for the Chicago Bears. In 2015, the now-head coach of the Miami Dolphins Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. That season, Cutler threw for 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with an overall record of six wins and nine loses in 15 games. In 11 previous seasons, Cutler made the playoffs once in 2010 and has a 1-1 postseason record. Kaepernick emerged as the starting quarterback for the 49ers and was only a couple of plays away from winning the Super Bowl in 2012.

He almost foreshadowed his current situation in the same August 2016 press conference reporters discovered the anthem protest mentioned at the top of this column.

“I think there’s a lot of consequences that come with this,” Kaepernick said of his protest in August 2016. “There’s a lot of people who don’t want to have this conversation. They’re scared they might lose their job or they might not get the endorsements. They might not be treated the same way. Those are things I prepared to handle and those are things that other people might not be ready for. It’s just a matter of where you’re at in your life. Where your mind’s at and at this point, I’ve been blessed to be able to get this far and have the privilege of being in the NFL. Making the kind of money that I make and enjoying the luxuries like that. But I can’t look in the mirror and see other people dying on the street that should have the same opportunities that I’ve had and say, ‘You know what? I can live with myself.’ Because I can’t if I just watch.”

San Fransisco journalist Tim Kawakami then followed up the answer by asking, “Do you think you might get cut over this?” Kaepernick paused in a moment of reflection before answering.

“I don’t know. But if I do, I know I did what’s right.”

Rashad Milligan

Rashad Milligan is a news reporter at the Douglas County Sentinel. He used to be the sports editor for Georgia State's student newspaper, The Signal. He placed first in the 2017 Southeast Journalism Conference Onsite Competition for Sports Reporting. He has also been featured on NBA.com and A3C.com

  • Frances Carodine

    I am a child of the 60’s I saw the flag being burn. yet him not not standing is his right .