He hasn't played in the league since 2016.

Advertisement

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be back on the grass when the NFL season kicks off later this year. Multiple reports state that Kaepernick is on the Los Angeles Chargers's potential workout list, which doesn't guarantee him a spot on the lineup, but does open doors for his return to the league.

Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, when he was on the San Francisco 49ers and started kneeling during the American national anthem as a way to peacefully protest police brutality and systemic racism. After he opted out of his contract that year — reports state that he would have been cut from the team if he didn't opt out — he sued the NFL for collusion, saying that there were plans to keep him out of the league. The case was settled last year, NBC Sports reports.

Colin Kaepernick NFL
Credit: Mike Ehrmann / Staff

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told ESPN that although he has not spoken to Kaepernick directly, his style of play would fit in with the team's current system. Currently, the team has Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert, and Easton Stick listed as quarterbacks.

"I haven't spoken with Colin, not sure where he's at as far in his career, what he wants to do," Lynn said. "But Colin definitely fits the style of quarterback for the system that we're going to be running. I'm very confident and happy with the three quarterbacks that I have, but you can never have too many people waiting on the runway."

Roger Goodell, the NFL's commissioner, later said the NFL was wrong for "not listening to players earlier" when thy voiced concerns of racial injustice and police brutality. His statement came after some of the NFL's most notable came together and posted a video asking the league to condemn racism and support the Black Lives Matter movement. While Goodell didn't mention Kaepernick specifically in his apology, he did encourage the league's teams to consider signing him.

Just last year, Kaepernick had a workout at the Atlanta Falcons's facility, though nothing came of it after media wasn't allowed into the session and the league insisted on a "liability waiver" to be attached to Kaepernick's contract. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told ESPN last week that he regrets not signing Kaepernick back in 2017. Statements from coaches may provide the league with some sympathy from fans, but Kaepernick is still waiting for real action.

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters in November. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody — we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Kaepernick's protest has been top of mind for many people during the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd. Many players and executives who, at the time, turned their backs on him now seem to understand what he was doing. The message was the same in 2016 as it is now, but as pressure mounts, public statements of support seem to be coming from all over the league.

Other sports players did follow in Kaepernick's footsteps at the time, including USA soccer champion Megan Rapinoe. Just this week, FIFA said that they would allow players to take a knee during the National Anthem without penalty. Donald Trump responded how he always has in the past writing on Twitter saying he "wouldn't be watching," now that it's allowed.

The change of heart around Kaepernick should serve as a reminder that Black people have been fighting to end systemic racism forever and their voices have been silenced. His protest was meaningful and it will forever be looked at as a historical moment. Whether or not he comes back to the NFL, these leagues need to listen to the Black players, period.