– Kaepernick celebrates Fourth of July in Ghana as he explores his roots
– Quarterback remains unsigned after opting out of contract in March
– Several NFL players say he’s been blackballed for his political beliefs
Colin Kaepernick celebrated the Fourth of July in Ghana, where the free-agent quarterback said he traveled to find his “personal independence”.
The 29-year-old, who played for the San Francisco 49ers last year, posted a video on Twitter asking: “How can we truly celebrate independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs?”
How can we truly celebrate independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs? To find my independence I went home. pic.twitter.com/hniYGJeLxG
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) July 4, 2017
Kaepernick followed up with a lengthier video on Instagram, saying his quest to “find out where my ancestors came from” brought him to the West African nation, where he visited a local hospital and paid his respects at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. He has also visited Egypt while in Africa, where he was joined by his former 49ers teammate Marquise Goodwin.
The six-year NFL veteran, who led San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII before the league caught up to his running-and-passing style, opted out of his contract with the Niners in March but has remained unsigned, having garnered little interest from teams around the league. A number of NFL players, including the Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, believe he is being blackballed by NFL teams for his political protest last season.
Sherman told ESPN First Take that Kaepernick’s remaining unsigned has little to do with the quality of his play and everything to do with his national anthem protest of last year. “It has nothing to do with football. You can see that,” Sherman said.
Asked why Kaepernick had not yet been picked up by a new team, on a day that Mark Sanchez was signed by the Chicago Bears, Sherman said: “It’s difficult to see because he’s played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it’s difficult to understand.
“Obviously he’s going to be in a backup role at this point. But you see quarterbacks, there was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year. So it has nothing to do with football. You can see that. They signed guys who have had off years before.”
The 49ers general manager John Lynch said last week in a radio interview that he had spoken with Kaepernick and that he wanted to play in the NFL this season, urging the quarterback to publicly express his desire to continue his career.
“He is fully committed to wanting to be in this league,” Lynch told KNBR Radio in San Francisco. “I won’t communicate too much of what we’ve talked about, but I will communicate that I gave that opinion to Colin myself: ‘I think you are having a little bit of an image crisis in terms of not so much what you did last year, but people are wondering, is this most important to you, at a position where the guys that succeed at that position are the guys that live it, breathe it, the CEOs that play that position.’ And I think there is a perception that football’s not on the top of his list.
“And so, my communication with Colin was, ‘Your best effort, I think the way you could best help yourself is to not have someone talk for you, not have statements, but go sit down and do an interview, and let people know exactly where you stand.’ Because he makes a compelling case as to how bad he wants to be in the league when you talk to him.
“And so, I’ll leave it at that, but we did have those discussions and I think that would help him.”
Kaepernick completed 59.2% of his passes, averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and threw 16 touchdowns with four interceptions in 12 games for the 49ers last season. But his refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest at police brutality and racial injustice became the NFL’s biggest storyline of last season. He’s said he will stand for the anthem next year since his objective for the protest, to start a nationwide debate, has largely been achieved.