Colin Kaepernick has vowed to return to the NFL despite being blacklisted for taking a knee during the national anthem.
In a sudden development eight years after Kaepernick was blackballed from the league and seven years after the former quarterback sued the NFL for collusion, Sports Illustrated published a surprising profile on the 35-year-old free agent.
According to the profile, Kaepernick believes he will one day make his NFL comeback despite not being picked up by a team since 2016. He also claimed he is still viewed as an “elite player” and “looks forward to the day” when he can “step on the field” again.
“I’m going to keep pushing,” Kaepernick told Sports Illustrated this week. “I’m going to keep fighting for it because I know I can step on the field and play.”
“Every workout, every opportunity I’ve had to show that, the feedback has always been positive,” he continued. “Everything from, ‘He’s still an elite player,’ to ‘The workout was great; it was better than expected.’”
“When I had my workout with the Raiders last year, even training with guys, there’s a decent amount of people who may have forgotten what I was capable of doing on the field, so any chance to be able to remind people of what I can do out there, I look forward to and embrace, and I look forward to the day that I get to step on the field and show people what I can do.”
As reported, Kaepernick came under fire during the 2016 NFL season when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
He was released from the San Francisco 49ers shortly thereafter and sued the NFL in 2017 over allegations the league blackballed him because of the national anthem protest.
Kaepernick and fellow free agent Eric Reid ultimately reached a settlement with the NFL in February 2019.
“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” a joint statement from all three parties said at the time.
“As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances,” the statement continued. “The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”
Kaepernick has since become an outspoken civil rights activist. He came under scrutiny again last year when he called Kyle Rittenhouse a “white supremacist” following the then 18-year-old’s not-guilty verdict.