Aaron Rodgers Believes Colin Kaepernick is Being Blackballed For Kneeling Against Racial Injustice

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers

We are a little over a week away from the start of a brand new NFL season and Colin Kaepernick finds himself on the outside looking in, as no team has expressed any interest in bringing him aboard in 2017.

A few weeks ago, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett called for many of the white players around the league to join their black teammates because only then will people start to take the protest seriously.

Almost immediately, white players began supporting their teammates and even kneeling with them. Now, even Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is speaking out about the issue.

He, like many others, agreed that the former 49ers QB is being blackballed because of what he did last year.

I bring up Colin Kaepernick. It’s July, and the media are still speculating as to why Kaepernick isn’t on an NFL roster after kneeling during the national anthem last season to protest racial inequity in policing. The word “blackballed” is being used with greater frequency, though some people in and around the NFL maintain that the quarterback simply isn’t very good. I ask Rodgers what he thinks, and he demurs at first, then says it would be “ignorant” to suggest Kaepernick’s stance didn’t play a role in his employment status.

A few weeks later, he reaffirms his point. “I think he should be on a roster right now,” he says. “I think because of his protests, he’s not.”

Rodgers tells me that while he doesn’t plan on sitting out the anthem, he believes the protests — which he describes as peaceful and respectful — are positive, mentioning that he’s had conversations with a new teammate, tight end Martellus Bennett, about the issues they represent. “I’m gonna stand because that’s the way I feel about the flag — but I’m also 100 percent supportive of my teammates or any fellow players who are choosing not to,” he says. “They have a battle for racial equality. That’s what they’re trying to get a conversation started around.”

I ask him what he thinks about that battle — the actual subject of Kaepernick’s protest. As always, he pauses to collect his thoughts. “I think the best way I can say this is: I don’t understand what it’s like to be in that situation. What it is to be pulled over, or profiled, or any number of issues that have happened, that Colin was referencing — or any of my teammates have talked to me about.” He adds that he believes it’s an area the country needs to “remedy and improve” and one he’s striving to better understand. “But I know it’s a real thing my black teammates have to deal with.”

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