False report claims Colin Kaepernick would end his protest in NFL


Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the NFL protest movement against police brutality and unequal treatment of minorities, is once again having his message twisted by others.

The latest controversy stemmed from a CBS NFL Today segment in which journalist Jason La Canfora said that Kaepernick would not continue his kneeling protest during the national anthem if he is signed by a team this year. There’s just one problem: It’s not true. 

The NFL has been mired by controversy after Donald Trump referred to a hypothetical protesting athlete as a “son of a bitch” at an Alabama rally. Meanwhile, Kaepernick toils away in obscurity waiting for a team to call, training for hours a day largely out of the public eye to avoid media spectacle. He didn’t speak to La Canfora on camera, but reportedly provided some on the record insight about his work and hopes to return to the NFL this season.

When asked about Kaepernick’s plans for the national anthem if he were to find himself on an NFL sideline this year, La Canfora was quick to respond: “He’s not planning on kneeling. He’s going to donate all his jersey sales, and he’s planning on standing for the anthem if given the opportunity.”

La Canfora’s statement on Kaepernick’s anthem plans was just one small moment at the end of a longer conversation, but it was the big breakout story from the segment.

Kaepernick’s critics were quick to criticize him for abandoning his principles for a chance to play. Even though Kaepernick has nearly fulfilled his pledge to donate $1 million to charity and La Canfora said all proceeds from jersey sales would be donated too, critics like Tomi Lahren made it about the money. 

The thing is, Colin Kaepernick never said he would end his protest. His girlfriend, Nessa Diab, called La Canfora’s statements “completely false.” 

La Canfora later admitted that he and Kaepernick never discussed if he’d be continuing his protests or his specific plans for the anthem. Their conversation was, as Kaepernick likely intended, focused solely on football. 

The “reports” probably referred to a March ESPN story that claimed Kaepernick planned to stand for the anthem during the 2017 NFL season. That report’s sources were never named, and Kaepernick never acknowledged its veracity. La Canfora responded to a question about a conversation he had the night before with an unverified rumor from half a year ago. 

La Canfora’s throwaway correction isn’t just bad journalism. It’s disingenuous, and it reinforces the overarching theme of Kaepernick’s protest being mischaracterized. He started sitting during the anthem without any other grand gesture, only acknowledging his reasons when asked. 

When he changed his tactics, opting to kneel instead of sit after consulting with veteran and former football player Nate Boyer, it was with the aim of respecting the military and what the flag and anthem represent, even in dissent. Still, most critics claim to this day Kaepernick’s protests (and others like it) are against the anthem, the flag, and the military itself, without ever pausing to listen to the message. 

As the movement has expanded across the league and drawn attention from Donald Trump, Kaepernick’s original message has been altered even more. When the NFL at large joined together after Trump’s tirade against its players, they weren’t standing, kneeling, or linking arms to bring attention to unchecked violence and inequality — they were making a half-conceived performance of “unity” against the only power in the country that can rival the NFL’s. 

Trump and his ilk are still attacking the NFL’s protests, and Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job.  

Kaepernick did make one statement for himself today, giving some insight into his position on the matter. We’ll let his choice of words stand on their own.  

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