Colin Kaepernick has not been in the NFL in real life or virtually since the 2016 season. His virtual hiatus, at least, ends with this year’s “Madden” video game.
EA Sports on Tuesday announced Kaepernick’s return in “Madden NFL 21,” which was made available last month. The gaming company released a strong statement explaining its adding Kaepernick back to the game.
MORE: The complete Colin Kaepernick kneeling timeline
“Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback,” the release read. “The team at EA Sports, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game. We’ve had a long relationship with Colin through Madden NFL and worked through our past soundtrack mistakes. (Note: Those soundtrack mistakes were EA Sports editing Kaepernick’s name out of songs on two occasions.)
“Knowing that our EA Sports experiences are platforms for players to create, we want to make Madden NFL a place that reflects Colin’s position and talent, rates him as a starting QB, and empowers our fans to express their hopes for the future of football. We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today.
“Starting today in Madden NFL 21, fans can put Colin Kaepernick at the helm of any NFL team in Franchise mode, as well as play with him in Play Now. We look forward to seeing Colin on Madden NFL teams everywhere.”
EA Sports set Kaepernick’s overall rating at 81, which makes him by far the best free-agent quarterback in the game. Here is EA Sports’ explanation of that rating:
“Based on Kaepernick’s prior on-the-field performance, combined with our data-driven EA Sports ratings simulations, Kaepernick is an 81 OVR, which takes into account that he has not taken the field since 2016.
“When Kaepernick was a healthy starting quarterback he was rated 89, 89, 81 overall and known for his strong touchdown-to-interception ratio, mobility and playoff performances. And because this is your franchise, you also have the ability to adjust Kaepernick’s ratings, giving you the flexibility to add him to the 99 Club.”
Another interesting line in EA Sports’ release as it relates to Kaepernick’s abilities in the game: “Make sure you choose the live roster file option when starting your franchise and sign Kaepernick before the start of Week 1 of the preseason because the CPU controlled-teams definitely won’t miss the chance to scoop him up and make him their starter.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted Tuesday that EA Sports’ adding Kaepernick back to the game “surely comes with the express permission of the NFL, given that the NFL exclusively licenses to EA the ability to create a game using NFL names and logos.”
In real life, Kaepernick remains a free agent more than four years after he began protesting racial injustice and police brutality in the United States by sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games.
Florio reported Monday that “there has been zero interest expressed as to Kaepernick in months.”