Colin Kaepernick Still Training Despite Seeming Exile From NFL

Joe Robbins / Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick hasn’t given up on playing in the NFL again, and continues to train and stay in top condition so that he is ready when that opportunity presents itself, according to TMZ. Kaepernick is training at 5 a.m. every single day, without even taking weekends off, in his bid to return to the league.

Kaepernick reports for training each morning with his coach, Josh Hidalgo, who is the Head of Sports Performance at the Sports Center NYC. “Five A.M. on the dot we are on the field, warming up, sprint work, conditioning, throwing, lifting, and stretching,” Hidalgo said. “Then immediately after Kap’s training is done he is off to meetings. Then we are back at it five A.M. on the dot.”

Kaepernick has not played professional football since the 2016 season. That was the year that Kaepernick became a controversial national figure when he elected to kneel for the national anthem in protest of racial injustice in the United States. Kaepernick began by sitting on the bench during the playing of the anthem in the third 49ers preseason game. When asked about it by reporters afterwards, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” The next week, in an attempt to show respect for members of the U.S. military while still protesting American social conditions, Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem instead of sitting. He revealed that former NFL player and U.S. military veteran Nate Boyer was the genesis of the idea.

Public opinion on Kaepernick’s protest was notably divided. Many athletes soon followed his lead and began to kneel in protest, some veterans spoke out in his defense, and over the ensuing weeks his jersey became the top seller at the NFL shop site. Others vilified him, as NFL players anonymously voted him the Most Disliked Player In The NFL. His jersey was also burned in effigy, and he faced public criticism from personalities ranging from play-by-play announcer Boomer Esiason to U.S. President Donald Trump. He’s also received death threats.

Perhaps more importantly, NFL television ratings suffered a precipitous drop as fans refused to watch games in protest of the anthem protest. Following that 2016 season, Kaepernick exercised his option to leave the San Francisco 49ers to become a free agent, but no team signed him.

In November of 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, alleging collusion between owners to blackball him from the league.

Things have begun to look up for Kaepernick recently, as he has become the new face of the Nike “Just Do It” campaign. An arbitrator also declined the NFL’s request to to dismiss Kaepernick’s case in August, suggesting that there was significant evidence for the case to go to trial. Also, Eric Reid, a friend and supporter of Kaepernick and the anthem protest, was also recently signed by the Carolina Panthers, suggesting that Kaepernick may get another chance to play in the league.