Colin Kaepernick’s return to an NFL field after opting out of his San Francisco 49ers contract may be much more difficult than originally imagined.
During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, an anonymous AFC general manager reportedly told him 20 percent of the league thinks Kaepernick can’t play, 10 percent is afraid of what President Donald Trump may say and 10 percent’s feelings are mixed.
The other 60 percent?
“The rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”
“Some of these (NFL) execs, reached during the combine, said they felt the same way about Kaepernick now. One called him “an embarrassment to football.” Other front office personnel whom I asked about Kaepernick during the combine said they were happy to see he had adjusted his stance toward kneeling during the anthem (Kaepernick will stand for the anthem next year, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported).”
Kaepernick won’t kneel
Kaepernick no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change that he believes has been created, sources told ESPN. He also believes the amount of national discussion on social inequality — as well as support from other athletes nationwide, including NFL and NBA players — affirmed the message he was trying to deliver.
Kaepernick’s protest continued throughout the season, and many wondered how it would impact his standing with other teams during a potential free agency.
Purely the football player
From a purely on-the-field perspective, Kaepernick will be a fascinating free agent as a former Super Bowl quarterback who looked on the cusp of becoming one of the top young players in the NFL.
He became a vegan, injured his shoulder, lost a ton of weight and made plenty of political statements by kneeling during the national anthem.
After a frustrating 2015 campaign where the 49ers only won two games and Kaepernick regressed, throwing for just 1,600 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions, the quarterback bounced back in 2016 despite his team actually getting worse.
Kaepernick threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions last season.
And now he’ll test the open market.