Colin Kaepernick was once one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in the National Football League. But now, no one wants him.
Kaepernick worked his way up to starter for the San Francisco 49ers in just his second season as a pro. Two years later, in the 2013 NFC championship game, he rushed for 130 yards, including a 58-yard run, and passed for another 153 yards. His star was on the rise. The next year, he signed a six-year deal with the Niners worth up to $126 million, with at least $13 million fully guaranteed.
Then he went into the doldrums. Injury plagued him in 2015 and by 2016 he'd lost his starting slot. Before a preseason game in 2016, Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," said Kaepernick, who is half white, half black and grew up with an adoptive family in Wisconsin.
His publicity stunt didn't get him his starting QB job back, but instead was the beginning of a downward spiral. This last March, he opted out of his contract and entered free agency. But in the April draft, no NFL picked him up, leaving him unemployed at just 29 years old.
But none of that has prompted Kaepernick to temper his protests. Instead, he's doubled down.
Over the Independence Day holiday, Kaepernick took to Twitter to protest celebrating the Fourth of July. In a minute-long video, Kaepernick is seen at the Cape Coast Castle, a former slave fort in Ghana, in a video that also features the "Door Of No Return" at another slave outpost in Senegal. He questioned why African-Americans would celebrate the day when they were brought to America as slaves.
In a longer post on Instagram, Kaepernick wrote:
In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it lead me to Ghana. Upon finding out this information, I wanted to visit the sites responsible for myself (and many other Black folks in the African Diaspora) for being forced into the hells of the middle passage.
I wanted to see a fraction of what they saw before reaching the point of no return. I spent time with the/my Ghanaian people, from visiting the local hospital in Keta and the village of Atito, to eating banku in the homes of local friends, and paying my respects to Kwame Nkrumah's Memorial Park. I felt their love, and truly I hope that they felt mine in return.
Of course, Kaepernick is free to express himself in whatever way he chooses. This is America, after all. But perhaps if he had toned down his protest and sought to add to the conversation, not simply to blame, he would still be an NFL quarterback.