Colin Kaepernick (1987–) is an American football player, well-known for his role as a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, taking over for the injured starter Alex Smith. He's better-known for his 2016 protests, in which he knelt during the United States national anthem to protest police brutality and other forms of racial inequality. Protests, especially in the US, aren't exactly rare — so part of the reason why Kaepernick's actions were so memorable is the insane blowback that he received from a medley of winguts nationwide, attacking him for being "disrespectful", or "disrespecting the troops and flag", as if being upset about racism and trying to draw attention to it by protesting publicly is somehow an attack on US military personnel. How they came to that conclusion, we will never know. However, this does suggest that conservative support for free speech is hypocritical, given that, when confronted with speech they find offensive, the reaction is to call for stoppages. In an even more blatant example of conservative wingnuttery, NASCAR owners said that they'd fire anyone who didn't stand for the national anthem. No cries of "censorship" from the right on that note, though.
A prominent shit-take came from Mike Ditka, a former Chicago Bears coach. He opined that "If you don't respect our country, then you shouldn't be in this country playing football … So I would say, adios.". He also remarked "there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of." Wow, thanks Mike!
The whole affair is also a lesson in corporate cynicism. Nike almost dropped Kaepernick in 2016, but eventually stayed on, and cashed in on a campaign called 'Nike — Dream Crazy', which encouraged people to believe in something, "even if it meant sacrificing everything".[note 1]
Kaepernick hasn't played since 2016. He's still a free agent at the time of writing. This makes it possible that he was blackballed for his beliefs. If the shoe were on the other foot, and a conservative were blackballed for their point of view, this would have inevitably been seen as a crisis of free speech by the right.
- No mention of the fact that Kaepernick is a millionaire sportsman, of course. Did he really sacrifice 'everything'?