It was four years ago: while the notes of the Star-Spangled Banner before the San Francisco 49 American football gameers at the Green Bay Packers, the quarterback of the first cities does not get up as is customary, and puts his right knee on the ground, in protest against the murders of several blacks by white police. All in the midst of the American presidential campaign, in a traditionally conservative league.
This gesture, immediately historic, earned him to be called “son of a bitch” by candidate Donald Trump, denouncing the lack of respect for the American flag, even if it means reigniting the debate on patriotism. The slinger, he finds himself ostracized by the National Football League (NFL): free of any commitment at the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year after having terminated his contract, he is blacklisted by all the franchises of the circuit, despite the glaring needs of certain teams at his post. Since May 25, his action has been rehabilitated after Derek Chauvin put his knee, not on the ground, but on the neck of George Floyd, until killing him. Two images juxtaposed by NBA star LeBron James with this message: “Do you understand now !! ?? Or is it still unclear? ”
Following the death of George Floyd, the name of Kaepernick is moreover trumpeted almost everywhere, failing to hear it in the bays of football enclosures. To the point of being sung at the funeral of George Floyd, in Houston. But what about the trajectory of the ex-quarterback of the 49ers since 2016?
Rewards and fights
His eviction from the football fields first leaves room for a long period of silence. Silence broken during a speech on the stage of the Beverly Wilshire (Beverly Hills), at the gala of the American Union for Civil Liberties (ACLU), where he received the “Eason Monroe” prize for courage. Other awards: the “Muhammad Ali Legacy Award” presented by the magazine Sports Illustrated and in April 2018, he received the Amnesty International “Ambassador of Conscience” award, for “Pay homage to his militant spirit and his exceptional courage”, in the words of the organization.
Read alsoColin Kaepernick brings racism to its knees
After the praise, the sports activist has other fights. Personal, already: still unemployed, he decides to file a complaint in October 2017 against the leaders of the various clubs of the NFL, which he considers responsible for his unemployment. He accuses them of having fomented an agreement between them so as not to take it over. The complaint led a year and a half later to a confidentiality agreement with the body, via which Kaepernick would have received compensation estimated between 60 and 80 million dollars. If the agreement is welcomed by the NFL players association, several observers – including some players – point out that the NFL schemes could have been brought to light, but that the confidentiality clause prevents the disclosure of emails or potentially devastating messages to the NFL, which could have proven the guilt of the league in this matter.
Meanwhile, during the summer of 2018, Kaepernick is contacted by Nike, which offers him to become the face of the firm on the occasion of 30e anniversary of the Just Do It slogan. The comma brand, linked to Kaepernick since 2011, remained until then the only sponsor not to have let go of the outcast. The assent of “Kap” gives rise to a black and white photograph accompanied by the text “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. ” A resounding and unprecedented marketing coup: never had such a big company taken a clear stand on such a divisive subject. The more so as the publicity leaves… three days before the resumption of the championship. Enough to ulcer pro-Trump supporters, some of whom do not hesitate to set fire to clothing bearing the image of the equipment manufacturer, responding to the hashtag #JustburnIt launched on Twitter.
Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt pic.twitter.com/SRWkMIDdaO
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
Back in the NFL?
Apart from this brilliant action, the native of Milwaukee continues to act in his corner. Its commitment is reflected through Kaepernick Publishing, a publishing house created last year to highlight writings from minorities, in “Conditions never seen concerning ownership of their work”, according to a press release. On Sunday of Superbowl 2020, he offers costumes to ex-prisoners just released from prison in order to have job interviews, says Kevin Livingston, the founder of the association. «100 Suits for 100 Men». Even if he hasn’t put on his helmet for two years, he finds himself at 57e place of the most influential sportsmen of the planet according to the classification of “World Fame 100” established by ESPN last year.
Some insistently and apologize, and the return of the number 7 – now 32 years old – on the pitch. The NFL tried to organize training so that he managed to convince franchises to hire him in early 2019, without success. “I still don’t think that [la NFL] got it right. Until they apologize or find a team for him, I don’t think they’ll end up on the right side of the story, “ New Orleans Saints player Malcolm Jenkins said on CBS the day of George Floyd’s funeral. Reverend Al Sharpton dedicates a chapter to Kaepernick and the NFL during his highly politicized eulogy to the deceased: “There is one player they have ignored and no longer recognize, it is Colin Kaepernick. If it is not fixed, then everything else makes no sense […] Repair the damage you caused to the career of the one you dropped […] We don’t want excuses, we want redress. ”
No exit from the person concerned on this subject, even if it is reported that it would be “More motivated than ever” the idea of replaying. He did not fail to react to the death of George Floyd via a tweet: “When obedience leads to death, revolt is the only logical reaction. The calls for peace will rain, and when they do, they will fall on deaf ears, because your violence has provoked this resistance. We have the right to fight back! ” Or to act: with Know Your Rights Camp, the platform he created and funded to assert the rights of people of color, he has just offered his services to activists in Minneapolis.