Colin Kaepernick last played in the NFL more than six years ago.
Since then, the league has undertaken several initiatives to invest resources in underfunded communities, has painted messages like “End Racism” on the end zones and commissioner Roger Goodell has even admitted being wrong about not listening to Kaepernick.
Still, Kaepernick, now 35, said he does not feel the NFL has changed much since teams opted not to sign him following the 2016 season.
“I haven’t seen any substantial change,” Kaepernick said Tuesday in an interview with NPR. “I think there is a lot of work to do on that front. Obviously, not playing and being out of the NFL for six years is an indictment on where they are currently at. So I wouldn’t put them at the forefront of goodwill and best of intentions in how they operate.”
Kaepernick, who was speaking to NPR to promote the release of his graphic memoir, “Change the Game,” that was published in March, last suited up Jan. 1, 2017. That season was his sixth as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers and was the year he protested systemic inequality and police brutality by sitting, then later kneeling during the pregame playing of the national 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,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an interview after an Aug. 26, 2016 preseason game. “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.”
That story appears to have been removed from NFL.com.
During his time out of the NFL, Kaepernick has continued to be outspoken about injustices and oppressive systems against people of color. He has invested his time and resources in documentaries and books that bring awareness to the issues he was protesting.
In May 2022, Kaepernick worked out for the Las Vegas Raiders, but was not signed. It was his first workout with any NFL team since he last played for San Francisco.
A second-round draft pick out of Nevada, Kaepernick started 58 games for the 49ers from 2011 to 2016 and helped lead them to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season. He threw for more than 12,000 yards during his NFL career, with 72 career touchdown passes. He also added 2,300 rushing yards and 13 scores on the ground.