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Colin Kaepernick Wants Back Into the NFL, but Does That Make Him a Hypocrite?

Colin Kaepernick still wants to play football. As of June 2022, the former 49ers quarterback is still looking to sign with an NFL franchise nearly six years after parting ways with his old team. He’s been holding public workouts, joining teams for practice, and proudly proclaimed that he’s stayed in top shape during his absence. Of course, there are plenty of fans who would love to see him back on a football field after such a long hiatus, but there are other fans who find his desire to return to pro sports problematic.

Kaepernick is infamous throughout the NFL for standing up against racism and injustice. His kneeling protest against police brutality is the most well-known, but he’s been vocal on various other problems that face Black and brown people. One of the most scathing of these critiques has been the comparison of professional sports to slavery. Even going as far as to depict a weigh-in as similar to a slave auction in his biopic series. The QB is far from the first person to make this observation and certainly hasn’t taken the idea as far as some others have, but many enjoyers of the sport find it odd that a man who sees parallels to slavery in modern sports would be so eager to put on a jersey of an NFL team.

This has led some observers to mock Kaepernick, saying he regrets his decision to speak out. That his finances must be in trouble and that he needs an NFL salary to stay afloat. Some even speculated that his entire protest was nothing more than a ploy for attention that went farther than he intended. Though these theories are baseless and farfetched, the idea that Kaepernick is going back on his controversial stances is something that deserves to be looked at. Because if what he’s doing in football can be considered hypocritical, then there are a lot of good people we look up to that can be considered hypocrites.

One thing has to be made clear, and that’s the fact that Colin Kaepernick loves gridiron football. He’s loved it for most of his life. The man has worked long and hard to hone his skill and condition his body for the physical toll that the hard-knock sport demands. His dedication led him to being drafted into the NFL, an honor that only a few thousand have received in the past 102 years of the league’s existence. In his short six-season career with the 49ers, he led his team to the Superbowl, made multiple playoff appearances, and racked up some impressive stats. This is not the resume of a person who hates football or even the NFL for that matter. Looking at both his words and his actions, the only thing he seems to legitimately hate is racism.

Many people make the incorrect assumption that a person cannot criticize a system that they participate in when in actuality, the opposite is true. More times than not pushes for social change come from within. Workers don’t simply quit their jobs when working conditions are abysmal, they unionize. Immigrates don’t “go back to their own country” when facing discrimination, they fight for equality. And Colin Kaepernick didn’t give up on football when he was faced with prejudice, he called it out. His decision to kneel was never a display of hate for America, and the comparison of football culture to slavery wasn’t a denouncement of the sport. Rather, he was pushing for change in the world that surrounded him.

Kaepernick wants to play the sport that he loves at the highest level, and the NFL allows him to do that. He’s not looking to reenter the league because his finances are in danger or because he’s sorry for what he’s done, but because he never stopped loving football. Yes, the world of professional sports has some deep-rooted issues that need to be fixed, and there’s no doubt that he will continue to address them whether he’s playing or not. But the next time he takes a stand against the wrongdoing of the league, we the public should be careful not to confuse the criticism of his passion for hate.


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