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NFL: Colin Kaepernick Has Raised Attention, Awareness on Social Justice Issues

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Colin Kaepernick receives the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City.  Tune in to NBCSN on December 8 at 8 p.m. ET or Univision Deportes Network on December 9 at 8 p.m. ET to watch the one hour SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Sportsperson of the Year special.  (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

The NFL issued a statement Tuesday praising former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for helping raise awareness of social justice issues outside of football. 

"The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity," said Jocelyn Moore, the league's executive vice president of communications and public affairs (via NFL Network's Ian Rapoport). "We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities. The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action."

The NFL's statement comes a day after Kaepernick announced he was going to be a brand ambassador for Nike:

Colin Kaepernick @Kaepernick7

Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt https://t.co/SRWkMIDdaO

Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported Monday the deal is structured like one for a typical star-level player in the NFL. Kaepernick will earn millions annually from Nike and have his own line of apparel with the company.

Kaepernick last played in the NFL in 2016. That season, he began kneeling during the national anthem, telling NFL Network's Steve Wyche he was "not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

A number of Kaepernick's colleagues joined the movement to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

Facing significant criticism resulting from the protests—with President Donald Trump among the critics—the NFL instituted a new rule mandating players and team personnel to stand during the anthem if they're present on the sidelines. Those who didn't want to stand for the anthem had the option of remaining in the locker room as a form of protest.

However, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed in July to put the new policy on hold pending further deliberations.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, has been unable to find a new home in the NFL after opting out of his deal with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017. 49ers general manager John Lynch confirmed later the team had planned to cut Kaepernick had he chosen to remain under contract with the team.

The 30-year-old filed a grievance in October 2017, alleging the NFL and team owners have conspired to keep him out of the league as a result of his social advocacy. Last Thursday, an arbitrator declined the NFL's motion to dismiss the suit, thus allowing it to move forward to a hearing later in the year.

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