NFLPA president Eric Winston: We're 'ready to help' Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick, a top-32 quarterback in a 32-team league without 32 starting-caliber quarterbacks, is unemployed. He’s still a free agent a year after he began his protest against racial injustice in the U.S. by remaining seated during the national anthem. That’s the bad news for Kaepernick.
The good news for him is that the NFL Players Association is ready to help him — if he wants the help.
On Friday, NFLPA president Eric Winston spoke with Deadspin’s Dom Cosentino about a variety of topics. One of those topics: Colin Kaepernick.
First, Winston revealed that the NFLPA is ready to help Kaepernick, but acknowledged that it’s ultimately up to Kaepernick to decide if he even wants the extra help.
“We’ve been in contact with Colin’s representatives, and we’ve let them know that we’re there and ready to help with whatever they’d like—whether it’s just some guidance on PR or whatever,” he said. “I know they’ve chosen to lay low, and I respect that—every player has to make a decision on how they want the union’s help, and I completely understand that, and that’s fine. The union’s always stood ready to help him in any way that we need to. We will continue to monitor that situation, we’ll continue to do anything that we can to make sure that he has another opportunity to play. At the end of the day, that’s really it. We’re not going to force ourselves on a player. He’s calling the shots, he wants what he wants, and I respect that, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Winston was then asked if he gets the feeling that Kaepernick is being blackballed. His response?
“Of course. You definitely get that feeling—obviously, that’s very hard to prove and it’s very hard to show. But, at the same time, for Christ’s sakes, you have an owner out there publicly saying, ‘I’m polling fans to decide whether I should have this guy on my team or not.’ It’s obvious that owners are scared of it, are worried about it,” he said.
“That’s fine. I guess that’s their business or whatever. But it kind of seems a little ridiculous to me. To act like Colin isn’t one of the top—let’s just call it 64 quarterbacks in the world right now is even more disingenuous. The fact that he’s not on a team right now, I think, kind of speaks to that. It’s kind of pretty silly.”
Kaepernick has garnered from interest from teams like the Seahawks and Ravens, but neither have made a move, even though Baltimore will be without Joe Flacco for the duration of the preseason due to a back injury. As Winston noted, the Ravens reportedly heard from fans about Kaepernick.
Furthermore, Giants owner John Mara even admitted earlier this offseason that he heard from fans about Kaepernick. Mara said they threatened to boycott the team’s games if a Giants player didn’t stand for the anthem.
It’s worth noting that it was reported earlier this offseason that Kaepernick won’t continue his protest next season — if he even does get signed. It’s also worth noting that Kaepernick pledged last September to donate $1 million to charities that help communities in need. Since making that promise, he’s repeatedly made donations to various charities.
Kaepernick might not be in the NFL and if he ever does wind up on a roster, he might not even continue his protest, but that doesn’t mean his movement will stop with him. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins already revealed that he’ll continue his protest this year. And on Saturday night, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch remained seated during the national anthem, though it’s not clear if Lynch was continuing Kaepernick’s protest.