Colin Kaepernick Steps onto the Field for Season Finale

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Tyler Wells, Contributing Writer

Amid a whirlwind of controversy in the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick stepped onto the field for the 49ers season finale against the Seahawks. Against their division rivals, the 49ers fell in a closely contested 25-23 game; Kaepernick put together a solid game, passing for 215 yards with a 77.3% completion rating. Little did he know that may have been the last time he would step onto an NFL field as a player again.

At the start of the 2016 preseason, Kaepernick decided that he would sit during the the national anthem. As the season was about to start, he switched to kneeling, and other players joined him. The first week, eleven players kneeled, and the action began to garner attention around the country. It became a topic of discussion that split the country. One side said kneeling was disrespectful of the American military. The other side said kneeling was a protest against racial injustices that plague the country’s police system.

At the end of the season, Kaepernick’s contract was up with the 49ers, and as he tried to find a new home for the 2017 season, no team was interested. In fact, the gunslinging quarterback hasn’t gotten any opportunities in the NFL since that final game against the Seahawks.

On November 16, the NFL aimed to change this narrative by offering Kaepernick, now 32, a private tryout at the Atlanta Falcons training facility, and an invitation was sent to every team in the league. This type of offer has never been given to a free agent before. As the date of the tryout approached, people in Kaepernick’s camp began to get uneasy about the NFL’s intentions, so they moved Kaepernick’s tryout 60 miles away less than an hour before it was supposed to take place.

While 25 of the 32 NFL franchises reportedly planned to send representatives to the original workout, only eight teams came to watch Kaepernick. The event was open to the media as the quarterback wanted “transparency” at the event in order to combat any ill intentions by the league.

This, too, sparked disagreement. Kaepernick cited several reasons for moving the workout, including uncertain about who the receivers would be, no list of attendees, a short two-hour deadline to accept the league’s invitation four days in advance, and the tryout being held on a Saturday rather than the typical Tuesday for free agents. All of these caused Kaepernick and his associates to worry that the tryout was nothing more than a publicity stunt by the league and wouldn’t give him a real opportunity to showcase his talents.

While the league’s intentions with the workout are still unknown, Kaepernick’s decision to move the workout has yet to pay dividends. League sources told ESPN that as of November 23, a week after the event, no teams had reached out to Kaepernick.

It continues to be a frustrating time for the QB who has been waiting for a chance these past three years; “I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years” he tweeted the Tuesday before the tryout.

For a player now three years and counting removed from professional football, the situation is bleaker. It continues to be a waiting game for Kaepernick, which he explained after the tryout; “[The] ball’s in their court – we’re ready to go.” Until then, the former 49ers quarterback who has 12,271 career passing yards and 72 touchdowns, while also having led a team to a Super Bowl appearance, remains on the market, waiting for a team to call.