After refusing to stand for the national anthem during the entirety of the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick has reportedly decided that he will not continue his "courageous" national anthem protest wherever he ends up next season.
USA TODAY Sports confirmed the soon to be contract-less quarterback's decision on Thursday:
Kaepernick, who is expected to opt out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, either sat or kneeled while The Star-Spangled Banner was played before Niners games last season, a protest meant to draw attention to racial inequality and police brutality. He will discontinue his public protest in 2017, wherever he plays next season, a person with knowledge of Kaepernick's plans told USA TODAY Sports' Tom Pelissero.
ESPN has since provided a little more detail about Kaepernick's rationale for dropping the protest, sources telling the network that he "no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change he believes has been created."
So, there you have it. The leader of the anti-anthem movement has decided to move on just as his new contract-less status kicks in.
As the Daily Wire has chronicled, Kaepernick has managed to stay in the headlines all season, even during the early games when he was benched, in large part because of his decision not to honor the country by at first sitting, then kneeling during the national anthem.
After his refusal to stand was noticed during a preseason game, Kaepernick told NFL.com why he was protesting the anthem. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said. "To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Unsurprisingly, the left cheered his defiant action, most notably President Obama himself, who defended Kaepernick, praising him for "starting the conversation" (despite the conversation about "systemic racism" being long underway, in large part because of Obama's commitment to the narrative).
ESPN and other national media outlets circled the wagons and increasingly portrayed his controversial actions as courageous and criticism of his "movement" as racially insensitive. Indeed, TIME ended up giving Kaepernick the cover and cheered his leadership in the "perilous fight" over "privilege, pride and patriotism."
Among the headline-grabbing stories in which Kaepernick starred was his public feud with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, his public praise of family-destroying tyrant Fidel Castro (which Miami fans did not appreciate), his endorsement of the Black Panther Party, his infamous cops-are-pigs practice socks, and his admission after the election that he did not bother voting because he didn't want to take part in "that systematic oppression" (according to the Sacramento Bee, he has actually never registered to vote).
The 49ers closed out the season by honoring Kaepernick with the team's inspirational award, deeming him the player who "best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team." Though the team honored him with the coveted award, most analysts expected him to move on after a brutal 2-14 season.