Colin Kaepernick, who has been staying in shape and practicing his skills as a professional football quarterback despite being unemployed from the NFL for over a year, was reportedly supposed to work out for the Seattle Seahawks this week.
But according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Seahawks — who desperately need a quality quarterback to back up their starter Russel Wilson — postponed the visit when Kaepernick refused to promise that he wouldn’t take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism next season.
This news comes just days after Pro Football Talk reported that Kaepernick’s former San Francisco 49ers teammate and current free agent Eric Reid was also asked — this time during a visit with the Cincinnati Bengals — whether he plans to take a knee during the national anthem next season.
Reid, a Pro Bowl safety who took a knee during the national anthem the past two seasons, refused to give the Bengals assurance that he wouldn’t kneel in the fall. Kaepernick tweeted his support for Reid.
My brother, @E_Reid35 continues to train like the Elite Probowl safety he is! Keep an eye on him, as he goes through free agency as someone who continues to fight against systemic oppression! #ImWithEric pic.twitter.com/hwPe08Pr5U
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) April 3, 2018
Kaepernick first refused to stand during the national anthem during the 2016 preseason, as a way to protest the lack of accountability for police officers who murdered black men and women after a summer of heightened tensions in the country following the police killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and others.
Reid was particularly impacted by the death of Sterling, which occurred in Reid’s hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In an article for the New York Times last September, Reid discussed approaching Kaepernick after the 49ers’ third preseason game to see how he could get involved in the protests.
“After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture,” Reid wrote. “I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”
Sending thanks and appreciation for the support. I will continue to strive to be the best man of God, husband, father, and athlete that I can be.
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) April 12, 2018
Kaepernick hasn’t been back on an NFL roster since the end of the 2016-17 season, despite the fact that he has more experience and better statistics than the majority of the backup quarterbacks in the league — and even some starting quarterbacks.
But taking a knee during the national anthem continues to be a hot-button issue in a league that seems more afraid of being the subject of a Sean Hannity rant on Fox News than of playing lousy football games.
Last fall, President Donald Trump put the NFL protests back into the spotlight when he referred to any player who took a knee during the anthem as a “son of a bitch” during a political rally. NFL owners and executives attempted to strike a compromise with players in order to put an end to the protests, but players such as Reid and Kaepernick refused to give into pressure.
Thursday’s revelation is particularly notable given that Kaepernick is currently suing the NFL, alleging that team owners and NFL executives colluded to keep him out of the league. In fact, this news broke while Kaepernick was sitting in on the deposition of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Also notable? While the Bengals and Seahawks both balked at signing two outspoken and peaceful protesters, neither team batted an eye before signing players with a history of domestic violence in the past. The things that teams consider a “distraction,” as opposed to what’s tolerated, is sadly telling.