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Colin Rand Kaepernick (/ˈkæpərnɪk/ KAP-ər-nik;[1] born November 3, 1987) is an American football quarterback who is currently a free agent. He played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League (NFL). He is also a political activist, best known for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.[2][3][4]

Colin Kaepernick
refer to caption
Kaepernick with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012
Free agent
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born: (1987-11-03) November 3, 1987 (age 32)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High school:John H. Pitman
(Turlock, California)
College:Nevada
NFL Draft:2011 / Round: 2 / Pick: 36
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • WAC Offensive Player of the Year (2008, 2010)
  • NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game (181 yards)
  • NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single postseason (264 yards)
Career NFL statistics
TDInt:72–30
Passing yards:12,271
Completion percentage:59.8
Passer rating:88.9
Rushing yards:2,300
Rushing touchdowns:13
Player stats at NFL.com

Kaepernick played college football for the University of Nevada where he was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the Year twice and became the only player in NCAA Division I FBS history to amass 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards in a career. After graduating, he was selected by the 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Kaepernick began his professional football career as a backup quarterback to Alex Smith, and became the 49ers' starter in the middle of the 2012 season after Smith suffered a concussion. He then remained the team's starting quarterback for the rest of the season, leading the team to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994. During the 2013 season, his first full season as a starter, Kaepernick helped the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game. Over the next three seasons, Kaepernick lost and won back his starting job, with the 49ers missing the playoffs for three years consecutively.

In the 49ers' third preseason game in 2016, Kaepernick sat during the playing of the U.S. national anthem prior to the game, rather than stand as is customary, as a protest against racial injustice and systematic oppression in the country.[5][6] The following week, and throughout the regular season, Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem. The protests received highly polarized reactions, with some praising him and his stand against racism and others denouncing the protests as disrespectful to the armed forces. The actions resulted in a wider protest movement, which intensified in September 2017 after President Donald Trump said that NFL owners should "fire" players who protest the national anthem.[7][8] Kaepernick became a free agent after the season, but went unsigned. In November 2017, he filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league. Kaepernick withdrew the grievance in February 2019 after reaching a confidential settlement with the NFL.

Early life

Kaepernick was born in 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Heidi Russo, who is white.[9][10] His birth father, who is African-American, separated from Russo before Kaepernick was born.[11][12][13] Russo placed Kaepernick for adoption with a white couple named Rick and Teresa Kaepernick. The couple had two older children: son Kyle and daughter Devon. The Kaepernicks decided to adopt a boy after losing two other sons to heart defects.[11][14][15]

Kaepernick lived in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, until age four, when his family moved to California.[16][17] When he was eight years old, Kaepernick began playing youth football as a defensive end and punter. At age nine, he was the starting quarterback on his youth team, and he completed his first pass for a long touchdown.[16] A 4.0 GPA student[18] at John H. Pitman High School in Turlock, California, Kaepernick played football, basketball and baseball and was nominated for all-state selection in all three sports his senior year. He was the most valuable player (MVP) of the Central California Conference in football, leading his school to its first-ever playoff victory. In basketball, he was a first-team All-CCC selection at forward and led his 16th-ranked team to a near upset of No. 1-ranked Oak Ridge High School in the opening round of the playoffs. In that game, Kaepernick scored 34 points, but future NBA player Ryan Anderson of Oak Ridge scored 50 points to lead his team to a victory.[19]

College career

Kaepernick received most of his high school accolades as a baseball pitcher. He received several scholarship offers in that sport, but he wanted to play college football.[16] The University of Nevada in Reno, Nevada was the only college to offer him a football scholarship, and Kaepernick signed with Nevada in February 2006.[17]

Kaepernick started his college career in 2007 at Nevada as a back-up quarterback, playing in 11 of the team's 13 games. He finished the season with 19 passing touchdowns, three interceptions and 2,175 passing yards, garnering a 53.8% completion percentage.[20] Kaepernick also added 593 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns as the Nevada Wolf Pack finished 6–7.[21]

As a sophomore, Kaepernick recorded 2,849 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions, 1,130 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. He became just the fifth player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 or more yards in a single season.[22] At the Humanitarian Bowl, he had 370 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, two interceptions, 15 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, earning the game's MVP award despite his team losing the game. At the conclusion of the same, Kaepernick was designated the WAC Offensive Player of the Year. He was the first sophomore to win this award since Marshall Faulk of San Diego State did in 1992. He was also named first-team All-WAC quarterback.[23]

In the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, Kaepernick was selected in the 43rd round by the Chicago Cubs.[24] He decided that he wanted to continue to play football at the University of Nevada and did not sign with the Cubs.[25]

Kaepernick finished his junior season with 2,052 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, six interceptions 1,183 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.[26] Kaepernick led the Wolf Pack to an 8–5 record and a second-place finish in the WAC behind undefeated Boise State. He was named second-team All-WAC quarterback for the season.

 
Kaepernick in 2010

On November 26, 2010, Kaepernick led his team to a 34–31 overtime victory against the previously undefeated Boise State Broncos, snapping their 24-game win streak that had dated back to the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl.[27] This game was played on Nevada's senior night, the final home game for Kaepernick. Nevada Head Coach Chris Ault would later call this game the "most important win in program history".

Kaepernick ended his senior season with 3,022 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, eight interceptions, 1,206 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. He joined Florida's Tim Tebow as the second quarterback in FBS history to have 20 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns in the same season.[28] Nevada claimed a share of the WAC title after defeating Louisiana Tech. Kaepernick was named WAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Kellen Moore, who had won the award in 2009.[29]

Kaepernick finished his collegiate career with 10,098 passing yards, 82 passing touchdowns, 24 interceptions, 4,112 rushing yards and 59 rushing touchdowns. He became the first quarterback in the history of Division I FBS college football to have passed for over 10,000 yards and rushed for over 4,000 yards in a collegiate career, a feat that has not been duplicated. He also tied former Nebraska quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch for most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in FBS history.

Kaepernick maintained a 4.0 grade point average during his college years and graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in business management.[30] After his senior season, Kaepernick was eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft.

Statistics

Passing Rushing
Season Team GP Att Comp Comp % Yards TD INT RAT Att Yards Avg TD
2006 Nevada
DNP – Redshirt
2007 Nevada 11 247 133 53.8% 2,175 19 3 150.8 105 593 5.6 6
2008 Nevada 13 383 208 54.3% 2,849 22 7 132.1 161 1,130 7.0 17
2009 Nevada 13 282 166 58.9% 2,052 20 6 139.1 161 1,183 7.3 16
2010 Nevada 14 359 233 64.9% 3,022 21 8 150.5 173 1,206 7.0 20
Career 51 1,271 740 58.2% 10,098 82 24 142.5 600 4,112 6.9 59

Professional career

San Francisco 49ers

2011 season

On April 29, 2011, the San Francisco 49ers traded up with the Denver Broncos from the thirteenth pick in the second round (45th overall) to select Kaepernick as the fourth pick in the second round (36th overall) at the 2011 NFL Draft. The Broncos received picks 45, 108, and 141 overall in exchange for the 36th overall pick.[31]

Kaepernick spent the 2011 season as backup to Alex Smith and attempted just five passes during the season.[32][33][34]

2012 season

In 2012, Kaepernick was initially used sparingly to run certain plays. He scored his first career touchdown in the team's fourth game when he scored on a seven-yard run against the New York Jets.[35][36] In Week 10, against the St. Louis Rams, Kaepernick replaced Smith in the second half of the game after he suffered a concussion in the first half. Kaepernick completed eleven of seventeen passes for 117 yards and added 66 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown as the 49ers and the Rams ended the game in a 24–24 tie.[37] He got his first NFL start the next game on November 19, during a Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park.[38] Kaepernick completed 16-of-23 for 246 yards with two touchdowns in a 32–7 win against a highly ranked Bears defense.[39] A quarterback controversy began. Smith was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19–5–1 as a starter under Harbaugh, while Kaepernick was considered more dynamic with his scrambling ability and arm strength.[40][41] Smith was cleared to play the day before the following game, but Harbaugh chose not to rush him back and again started Kaepernick. He remained the starter for the rest of the season and led the 49ers to an 11–4–1 record and a berth in the NFL playoffs.[42][43][44]

 
Kaepernick in Super Bowl XLVII

In his first career postseason start, against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick had 263 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, one interception and 181 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns as the 49ers defeated the Packers 45–31. With his performance, he set an NFL single-game record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 181, breaking Michael Vick's record of 173 in a 2002 regular season game.[45] He also broke the 49ers postseason rushing record, regardless of position and joined Jay Cutler and Otto Graham in both as the only players in NFL history to run for two touchdowns and pass for two others in a playoff game.[46][45] In the NFC Championship, the 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28–24 with Kaepernick completing 16-of-21 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown.[47] The team advanced to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans against the Baltimore Ravens. Kaepernick threw for 302 yards, one passing touchdown, and ran for a touchdown, but the 49ers fell behind early and could not come back, losing by a score of 31–34.[48]

2013 season

In the season opener of the 2013 season against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns, the first 400-yard game by a 49ers quarterback since Tim Rattay on October 10, 2004.[49] Kaepernick ended the season with 3,197 yards passing, 21 touchdowns, and eight interception, 524 yards rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns and led the 49ers to a 12–4 record and a berth in the NFL playoffs.[50]

In the Wild Card Round, the 49ers played the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick had 227 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception and added 98 rushing yards as the 49ers beat the Packers 23–20. In the divisional round, against the Carolina Panthers, Kaepernick had 196 passing yards, one passing touchdown, 15 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown as the 49ers beat the Panthers 23–10. In the NFC Championship Game, against eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, Kaepernick had 153 passing yards, one passing touchdown, two interceptions and rushed for 130 yards as the 49ers lost to the Seahawks 17–23, ending the 49ers' season and attempt to return to the Super Bowl.[51][52]

2014 season

On June 4, Kaepernick signed a six-year contract extension with the 49ers, worth up to $126 million, including $54 million in potential guarantees, and $13 million fully guaranteed.[53]

On September 17, Kaepernick was fined by the NFL for using inappropriate language on the field.[54] On October 9, he was fined $10,000 by the NFL for appearing at a post-game press conference wearing headphones from Beats by Dre, while the league's headphone sponsor was Bose.[55] In a game against the San Diego Chargers, he ran for a 90-yard touchdown.[56] The 49ers finished the season 8–8 and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.[57] Kaepernick threw for 3,369 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He rushed for 639 yards and one touchdown.[58] Following the season, head coach Jim Harbaugh left to coach the University of Michigan.[59]

2015 season

In 2015, Kaepernick struggled under new head coach Jim Tomsula. A day after a 27–6 collapse at St. Louis in Week 8, Kaepernick lost his starting job to backup Blaine Gabbert for Week 9 against Atlanta.[60] With Gabbert starting as their new quarterback, the 49ers narrowly won 17–16. On November 21, the 49ers announced that Kaepernick would miss the rest of the season because of an injured left shoulder that required surgery.[61] He ended the season with 1,615 yards passing, six passing touchdowns, five interceptions and 256 rushing yards with one rushing touchdown in nine games.[62]

Head coach Tomsula was fired following the season and the 49ers hired Chip Kelly as his replacement.[63] In February 2016, Kaepernick expressed an interest in being traded.[64]

2016 season

Kaepernick was coming off three sugeries entering the 2016 season,[65] needing operations on his thumb and knee in addition to the season-ending shoulder procedure.[66] After having lost weight and muscle mass because of the injuries,[67] he competed for the starting quarterback position with Gabbert.[68] Kelly named Gabbert as the starter to open the season.[69] Prior to the 49ers Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills, Kelly announced Kaepernick would start, marking his first start of the season. On October 13, it was announced that he and the 49ers restructured his contract, turning it into a two-year deal with a player option for the next season.[70] He completed 13-of-29 passes, with 187 passing yards, one passing touchdown and 66 rushing yards in the 49ers 45–16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.[71] On November 27, he recorded 296 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and 113 yards rushing in the 49ers' 24–31 loss to the Miami Dolphins.[72] He joined Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Randall Cunningham, and Marcus Mariota as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to record at least three passing touchdowns and 100 yards rushing in a game. In a Week 13 loss to the Chicago Bears, Kaepernick threw a career-low four yards before getting benched for Gabbert.[73] He returned to the starting lineup the following week and threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers' 13–41 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.[74] On December 24, Kaepernick recorded 281 total yards, two passing touchdowns, one interception, one rushing touchdown, and a two-point conversion on the game-winning drive as the 49ers beat the Los Angeles Rams 22–21 to get their first victory on the season with Kaepernick as the starter.[75] For the 2016 NFL season, Kaepernick played twelve games and ended the season with 2,241 passing yards, sixteen passing touchdowns, four interceptions and added 468 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.[76]

During the offseason, San Francisco hired Kyle Shanahan from Atlanta to be their new coach. He planned to run the same offense which he ran the previous year with the Falcons, and did not believe that Kaepernick fit the scheme.[77] The 49ers told Kaepernick that they planned to release him.[77][78] On March 3, 2017, he opted out of his contract and became a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year on March 9.[79]

NFL career statistics

Regular season

Year Team Games Passing[80] Rushing Sacked Fumbles Record
G GS Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD Sack Yds Fum Lost Win-Loss
2011 SF 3 0 3 5 60.0 35 7.0 0 0 81.2 2 −2 −1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0–0
2012 SF 13 7 136 218 62.4 1,814 8.3 10 3 98.3 63 415 6.6 5 16 112 9 2 5–2
2013 SF 16 16 243 416 58.4 3,197 7.7 21 8 91.6 92 524 5.7 4 39 231 6 4 12–4
2014 SF 16 16 289 478 60.5 3,369 7.0 19 10 86.4 104 639 6.1 1 52 344 8 5 8–8
2015 SF 9 8 144 244 59.0 1,615 6.6 6 5 78.5 45 256 5.7 1 28 166 5 1 2–6
2016 SF 12 11 196 331 59.2 2,241 6.8 16 4 90.7 69 468 6.8 2 36 207 9 3 1–10
Total 69 58 1,011 1,692 59.8 12,271 7.3 72 30 88.9 375 2,300 6.1 13 171 1,060 37 15 28–30

Playoffs

Year Team G GS Passing[80] Rushing Sacked Fumbles Record
Comp Att Pct Yds Y/A TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD Sack Yds Fum Lost W/L (as starter)
2012 SF 3 3 49 80 61.3 798 10.0 4 2 100.9 25 264 10.6 3 5 32 1 0 2–1
2013 SF 3 3 45 82 54.9 576 7.0 3 3 74.0 26 243 9.3 1 6 26 3 1 2–1
Total 6 6 94 162 58.0 1,374 8.5 7 5 87.3 51 507 9.9 4 11 58 4 1 4–2

Activism

In the 49ers third preseason game of the 2016 season, Kaepernick was noticed sitting down during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as opposed to the tradition of standing. During a post-game interview, he explained his position stating, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder", referencing a series of African-American deaths caused by law enforcement that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and adding that he would continue to protest until he feels like "[the American flag] represents what it's supposed to represent".[81][82][83] In the 49ers' fourth and final preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled during the U.S. national anthem to show more respect to former and current U.S. military members while still protesting during the anthem after having a conversation with former NFL player and U.S. military veteran Nate Boyer.[84] After the September 2016 police shootings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott,[85] Kaepernick commented publicly on the shootings saying, "this is a perfect example of what this is about".[86] Photos then surfaced of him wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs.[87][88] In a statement he acknowledged wearing them as a statement against "rogue cops". He maintained that he has friends/family in law enforcement and that there are cops with "good intentions" who protect and serve and he was not targeting all police.[89] Kaepernick went on to kneel during the anthem prior to every 49ers game that season.

After initial backlash against his protests, Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million to "organizations working in oppressed communities."[90][91] He donated $25,000 to the Mothers Against Police Brutality organization that was started by Collette Flanagan, whose son fell victim to police brutality.[92] In 2018, Kaepernick announced that he would make the final $100,000 donation of his "Million Dollar Pledge" in the form of $10,000 donations to charities that would be matched by celebrities.[93]

Inspired by Kaepernick, other NFL players and pro athletes conducted various forms of silent protests during the national anthem.[78][94] The NFL experienced an 8 percent decline in viewership in the 2016 season with the No. 1 reason, cited by 30 percent of fans in a J. D. Power survey, being the player protests.[94][95] His San Francisco teammates awarded him the team's Len Eshmont Award, as the player who best epitomized the inspirational and courageous play of former 49er Len Eshmont.[96][97] Then-49ers head coach Kelly later said that Kaepernick was "zero distraction" that season.[65][98]

Also in 2016, Kaepernick founded the "Know Your Rights Camp", an organization which held free seminars to disadvantaged youths to teach them about self-empowerment, American history, and legal rights.[99]

In 2018, Nike released an ad featuring Kaepernick with the text, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." NFL spokesperson Jocelyn Moore responded to the ad saying Kaepernick's social justice campaign, "deserve(s) our attention and action."[100]

In July 2019, Nike, Inc. released a shoe featuring the Betsy Ross flag called the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July trainers. The trainers were designed to celebrate Independence Day. The model was subsequently withdrawn after Colin Kaepernick told the brand he and others found the flag offensive because they associated it with slavery.[101][102][103] Joe Scarborough decried Nike's decision as "politically correct madness", saying that the flag should be seen as a symbol of resistance against the British monarchy. Scarborough also felt that this instance of political correctness could help Donald Trump to be re-elected.[104] Charles Taylor of Forbes described Nike's decision as a blunder, noting that no significant number of Americans view the Betsy Ross flag as a racist symbol and that a poll shows that 85% of American millennials like seeing the U.S. flag on Independence Day.[105] Nike's decision to withdraw the product drew criticism from Arizona's Republican Governor, Doug Ducey, who subsequently pulled a US$2 million tax incentive for a Nike factory in the state,[106] and Texas's Republican Senator Ted Cruz.[107]

Lawsuit against the NFL

Following his departure from the 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick went unsigned through the off-season and 2017 training camps, leading to allegations that he was being blackballed because of his on-field political statements as opposed to his performance.[108][109][110][111][112][113] The Seattle Seahawks brought Kaepernick in for a visit in May 2017, but did not work him out or offer a contract.[114][78] Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said, "He's a starter in this league. And we have a starter. But he's a starter in this league, and I can't imagine that someone won't give him a chance to play."[114] The Baltimore Ravens considered signing Kaepernick as a backup to starting quarterback Joe Flacco before the 2017 season. The team did not go through with this as their owner Steve Bisciotti reportedly believed the signing would result in heavy backlash and criticism from the general public,[94] a claim that was refuted by the team.[115] The Seahawks set up another visit and workout with him in April 2018, but the team postponed it indefinitely after he would not say whether he would continue his national anthem protest or not.[116]

In October 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing league owners of collusion to keep him out of the league.[117] The NFL requested to dismiss the case but was denied by an arbitrator which meant the case would go to trial.[118][119] On February 15, 2019, it was announced that Kaepernick reached a confidential settlement with the NFL and withdrew the grievance. In a related case, Eric Reid, who was the first to join Kaepernick in kneeling when they were 49ers teammates, also settled with the league.[120][121] Reid had been unsigned for a stretch before joining the Carolina Panthers.[120]

Before November 16, 2019, Kaepernick had not had an NFL tryout since becoming a free agent in 2017. [122] He continued working out five days a week,[123] and stated publicly and privately that he wished to continue playing.[124]

On November 12, 2019, the NFL set up a workout for him in Atlanta on Saturday, November 16. All 32 NFL teams were invited to attend the private session, which was to be closed to the media. It was to include an on-field workout and an interview, with videos of both to be sent to teams afterward.[125] Aside from its scouting combine, the league rarely organizes workouts for all of its teams.[126] Typically, NFL teams schedule workouts for Tuesdays, when head coaches and general managers can more readily attend.[125] On Saturdays, teams are preparing for games the next day and travelling to away games.[125][126] On November 16, about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the workout, Kaepernick nixed the plans over concerns about the workout not being public and issues with the liability waiver the NFL asked him to sign. He instead moved to an Atlanta-area high school, where he held a public throwing session attended by scouts from seven NFL teams.[127][128]

In an opinion piece published by The New York Times on November 22, Ta-Nehisi Coates said Kaepernick is "not fighting for a job" but that he is "fighting against cancellation".[129]

Personal life

Kaepernick was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during his college years.[130] Kaepernick spoke about his faith saying, "I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I'm at."[131] Kaepernick has multiple tattoos about his faith. His right arm features a scroll with the Bible verse Psalm 18:39 written on it. Tattooed under the scroll are praying hands with the phrase "To God The Glory" written on them. To the left of both the scroll and praying hands is the word "Faith" written vertically. His left arm features a Christian cross with the words "Heaven Sent" on it referring to Jesus Christ. Written above and below the cross is the phrase "God Will Guide Me". Written to the left and right of the cross is the Bible verse Psalm 27:3.[132][133][134]

Kaepernick reportedly started dating radio personality and television host Nessa Diab in July 2015,[135] and officially went public about their relationship in February 2016.[136]

Kaepernick began following a vegan diet in late 2015.[137]

Kaepernick's family has had a pet African spurred tortoise named Sammy since he was 10 years old.[138]

Awards and honors

References

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Further reading

External links