Kaepernick hasn’t played pro football since 2016, the season he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
His opportunity to work out for the Raiders, which was reported by ESPN on Wednesday, will be the first time he has worked out for an NFL team since his exile. He met with the Seattle Seahawks in May of 2017, but the team opted not to sign him.
The Raiders do have some history with breaking barriers, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise they are willing to take a look at Kaepernick. Former owner Al Davis, the father of current Raiders owner Mark Davis, was the first NFL owner to hire a Black head coach when he made Art Shell coach in 1989. He also was the second NFL owner to hire a Latino head coach in Tom Flores, and the first to hire a female chief executive in Amy Trask.
The Raiders are set at starting quarterback, having signed eight-year veteran Derek Carr to a three-year, $121.5 million extension in April.
Kaepernick, 34, was drafted by the 49ers in the second round of the 2011 draft. He played in 69 games in six seasons in San Francisco, including 58 starts. He completed 59.8% of his passes for 12,271 yards, 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, and rushed for another 2,300 yards.
He led the 2012 team to the Super Bowl, where the Niners fell one win short of a championship, falling 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens.
In an interview with the “I Am Athlete” podcast, Kaepernick noted that both of his former Niners coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly, said he “made the locker room better,” contrasting a narrative that he would be a distraction for any team that signs him.
“That 2016 season, my last year, my teammates voted me most courageous and inspirational player,” he said. “So, when you’re talking about the people that are in the building, that has never come out that I’ve been a distraction. That’s never come out that I’ve been an issue for the people I’ve played with.”
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