Colin Kaepernick Says the NFL’s Recent Social Justice Initiatives Are ‘Propaganda’
As the NFL kicked off its first games of the season this weekend, Colin Kaepernick called the league's recent social justice initiatives nothing but "propaganda."
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who started kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and systematic racism in 2016, questioned the NFL motives in a tweet this weekend.
Kaepernick's post also claimed the league was "blackballing" his ex-teammate Eric Reid, who is currently unsigned to a team and has also been an outspoken proponent of social justice issues.
"While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid for fighting for the Black community," Kaepernick wrote on Sunday. "Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league."
The NFL did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment about Kaepernick's comments.
Reid had repeatedly kneeled during the national anthem and was released by the Carolina Panthers on March 18 of this year after the team decided to "go a different way," according to ESPN.
Two months later, nationwide protests erupted when George Floyd died after a violent arrest by a white Minneapolis police officer. Since then, social justice issues have been a talking point for sports leagues around the country, from the NBA to the NFL, which had pregame ceremonies to shine a light on social justice issues this weekend (with apparently mixed responses).
After leaving the 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick has gone unsigned by NFL teams and alleged in a lawsuit against the league that they colluded to keep him from playing for starting the kneeling movement. Last year, Kaepernick’s attorneys announced that he had reached a settlement with the NFL in a joint public statement, which also confirmed a settlement has been reached with Reid, who filed a grievance against the NFL in May 2018, according to ESPN.
In 2018, NFL owners had voted unanimously to approve a policy that would fine teams for players who kneeled during the national anthem. But that decision was later postponed, according to Rolling Stone, after the Miami Dolphins threatened to fine players for four games if they took a knee.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently expressed regret about not having listened to Kaepernick and other players who chose to kneel during the anthem.
"It has been a difficult time for our country," Goodell said in a video posted to Instagram in June. "In particular, black people in our country. First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality."
"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people," he continued. "[We] admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."
In a recent interview with former linebacker Emmanuel Acho, Goodell was asked what he would tell Kaepernick if given the chance to speak to him.
"Well the first thing I'd say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to," Goodell said on Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.
"We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue," Goodell continued. "I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did. And we would've benefited from that, absolutely."
Many fans misinterpreted Kaepernick's protest as being disrespectful of the American flag and military when the 32-year-old was clear about his focus from the start. In fact, it was a retired Army Green Beret who suggested that Kaepernick kneel instead of sit during his protest.
"These are not people who are unpatriotic. They're not disloyal. They're not against our military," Goodell said of the players who have kneeled since Kaepernick. "In fact, many of those guys were in the military, and they're a military family."
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