Commentary: Will Kaepernick return to the NFL this season?

Colin Kaepernick

Commentary: Will Kaepernick return to the NFL this season?
November 21
13:53 2019

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

During this time of year, you will see signs that say, “All I want for Christmas is …” These signs are displayed for everyone to see. It could be that some child wants a new bicycle or maybe a new video game. Or maybe some adult wants a diamond ring or a new automobile. Sometimes these signs work and other times they don’t.

Well, many of us are holding up signs that say, “All we want for Christmas is for Colin Kaepernick to return to the National Football League.” I know you remember Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. He last played football in 2016, which seems like an eternity ago. If you recall, he decided to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem.

Kaepernick has been applauded by many for taking a stand against police brutality and racial injustice. What he did by kneeling took a lot of guts. There were other players in the NFL who joined him in this protest, such as Eric Reid, either by kneeling or locking arms together. Reports say some players decided to stay in the locker room during the National Anthem.

Since the 2016 season, Colin Kaepernick has continued his campaign to fight injustice and teamed with Nike for a commercial. However, despite the commercials, he has still been unemployed by the NFL. He reached a financial settlement with the NFL, but he was still an unemployed NFL quarterback. Although the words have not been spoken by them, Colin Kaepernick was essentially blackballed by the league. Teams would not hire him for the position of quarterback, a position he is good at playing.

NFL teams need starting and back-up quarterbacks on their rosters. Rather than hire Kaepernick, teams were hiring less than stellar quarterbacks to fill the position. One day a guy could be sitting on his couch eating chips and the next day he could be an NFL quarterback. Not Kaepernick! That’s crazy. There is no explanation for that kind of reasoning other than he was banned from the NFL.

The breaking news about Colin Kaepernick is that he did have an NFL-sponsored workout last Saturday. It was to have been held at the Falcons’ facility, but Kaepernick moved it himself to a high school field in Riverdale, Georgia. There were to have been at least 22 teams in attendance, but the actual number was more like eight teams. I suspect the location change may have played a role in the decreased number of teams. 

Obviously, the NFL is behind this movement to have Kaepernick in a workout. The question on the field for me is, who is really behind this effort? Does mogul Jay-Z have anything to do with this new-found interest by the National Football League? We can only speculate as to the real reason.

Attorney Ben Meiselas and Agent Jeff Nalley said, “From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL office has not provided one.” The sports media has had a virtual field day offering all types of scenarios about the event. You don’t know whom to believe. What is most important is that Colin Kaepernick returns to playing in the NFL.

Kaepernick not playing for such a long time is a sign that social justice issues resonate with NFL owners. What is obvious also is how they are choosing to deal with them. Instead of meeting to discuss the problem, they have chosen to ignore it. However, Kaepernick and others kept the issue in the public such that owners became increasingly irritated by it. I believe the owners took the wrong approach. It was never about patriotism, as some would suggest.

So, where do we go from here with Colin Kaepernick? I believe he will be with a team this season. He is certainly better than some of the quarterbacks in the league.

So National Football League owners don’t continue to play the role of pharaoh, put him back in the league! A part of the Pledge of Allegiance says, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And justice for all. That includes Colin Kaepernick.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at

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