The case of Colin Kaepernick, former NFL quarterback (for now), is a curious one. On one hand, anyone with a working set of eyeballs and a small amount of common sense should realize that he’s better than half a dozen of the walking stiffs passing for starting QBs in the league right now.
On the other hand, if any owner were to sign him, he brings with him a unique set of controversies, since he was the founder (so to speak) of the national anthem protests that have garnered so much attention, including the scornful tweets of the Commander in Chief. We can certainly understand why teams are choosing to not bring that into their locker room and media briefings.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in the off-season, but remains a free agent as the 2017 season is now half over. Despite not being employed in the NFL, he continues to make news — last week he was named “Citizen of the Year” by GQ magazine. It was a decision that divided opinions, even in the sports community (Houston Texans star J.J. Watt raised almost $40 million for hurricane relief, for example, but didn’t win). One man who supported the decision, though, was LeBron James. The Cavs superstar posted the GQ cover on his Instagram, and elaborated on that endorsement when speaking to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“I love football, but I’m not part of the NFL,” James said [after practice on Sunday]. “I don’t represent the NFL. I don’t know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing. I do know that. Just watching, he’s an NFL player. He’s an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he’s been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that.”
LeBron continued, undeterred by those who might disagree with his perspective:
“The only reason I could say he’s not on a team is because the way he took a knee,” James said. “That’s the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks — first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks — that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let’s just be honest.”
Unlike NBA stars of previous eras, James has been particularly outspoken about his political beliefs. He wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt in protest of the death of Eric Garner, publicly campaigned for Hilary Clinton in the last presidential election, and taken shots at Donald Trump on Twitter (which seems like the easiest place to reach the current U.S. president).