A Timeline of Colin Kaepernick's Kneeling In Protest To His Upcoming Workout for NFL Teams

It was announced on Tuesday that the NFL will hold an open workout for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has not stepped on an NFL field since 2017.

Since 2017, Kaepernick has gone from a Super Bowl contending quarterback to an outspoken advocate for social justice, while receiving hate and love from people across the league.

Below is a timeline of events for the past three years.

August 26, 2016

During a preseason exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick was seen for the first time sitting on the bench during The Star-Spangled Banner.

Following the game, Kaepernick spoke to NFL media to explain his decision to sit. "I am not going to stand to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way."

The 49ers responded by standing by Kaepernick's decision, releasing a statement that read in part, "in respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

September 1, 2016

After speaking with Nate Boyer, a U.S. Army veteran and former NFL long snapper, Kaepernick continued to protest but knelt instead of sitting on the bench during the anthem, as a sign of respect for military personnel.

Boyer wrote a letter to Kaepernick supporting his protest and while speaking to ESPN said, "not only does he have every right to do that, but I respect him. It was incredibly brave what he did."

During this game, Kaepernick's teammate Eric Reid became the first player to support him and join in kneeling for the anthem.

Kaepernick also pledged to donate $1 million to social justice groups and causes throughout the country.

September 22, 2016

TIME magazine tweets a video of its October 3 issue featuring Kaepernick on the cover. The cover also included lyrics from the national anthem, which also became the title of the magazine article on the NFL quarterback: "The Perilous Fight: National anthem protests led by Colin Kaepernick are fueling the debate about privilege, pride and patriotism."

49ers coach Chip Kelly responded to the cover of the magazine by saying "it's an issue that's at the forefront of our country. It needs to be addressed and it needs to be taken care of because what's going on is not right. I think again he's shedding light on the situation that is heinous."

January 1, 2017

Kaepernick played his final game for the 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks.

March 3, 2017

ESPN announced that the six-year veteran quarterback decided to opt-out of his contract with the 49ers, making him a free agent. During the offseason of the 2017 season, Kaepernick was not signed by any NFL teams.

August 12, 2017

Despite his absence from the league, other players continued to kneel for the anthem. During the Oakland Raiders preseason opener, running back Marshawn Lynch was seen sitting during the song.

#Raiders staff had to hide Marshawn Lynch from the #Broncos crowd while he protested the national anthem b/c the protests are "popular" lol. pic.twitter.com/y4mxpHlmZr

— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 2, 2017

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that Lynch told him "it's not a form of anything other than me being myself."

September 22, 2017

President Donald Trump criticizes NFL players who were protesting during the anthem. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners - when somebody disrespects our flag - to say, 'Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out, he's fired,'" Trump posted to Twitter.

September 24, 2017

A number of NFL teams oppose Trump's comments, calling them "offensive" and "disappointing."

New England Patriots CEO and chairman Robert Kraft posted a statement on Twitter. "I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president on Friday," Kraft wrote.

Statement from #Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft: pic.twitter.com/f5DJeK0Woj

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 24, 2017

October 8, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence walks out of an Indianapolis Colts game before kickoff, after a number of players were seen protesting. "I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted afterward.

Reid responds to Pence's early departure on Twitter, saying "The Vice President of the United States is trying to confuse the message we're putting out there." Reid added that be believed Pence left the game early as a "PR stunt."

October 15, 2017

A grievance against the NFL is filed by Kaepernick, where the former QB claims NFL owners were colluding by not singing him and keeping him out of the league.

May 23, 2018

The NFL announces that all players who are on the field during the national anthem must stand, or stay in the locker room. Any player who goes against the rule will be issued a fine.

This rule also says that each team can create their own rules for players and personnel that do not stand, but they must obey "with the above principles."

August 17, 2018

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro announces that the network will no longer televise the anthem during Monday Night Football, though the network had not previously been broadcasting it.

1/2 ESPN will not be broadcasting the National Anthem on Monday nights this year.

"We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don't think that will change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem ...

— Sara Fischer (@sarafischer) August 17, 2018

While speaking at a rally in West Virginia, Trump responded to this decision by ESPN saying "we don't like that."

August 30, 2018

An arbitrator denies the NFL's request to throw away Kaepernick's grievance, allowing the lawsuit to move forward.

September 3, 2018

A new advertising campaign featuring Kaepernick is released by Nike. The slogan is: "Believe in something, Even if it means sacrificing everything"

Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt pic.twitter.com/SRWkMIDdaO

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018

The campaign also featured sports icons like Lebron James and Serena Williams.

February 14, 2019

Reports are released stating that Kaepernick asked for $20 million to play in the Alliance of American Football (AAF), created by former NFL executive Bill Polian as a developmental league for the NFL. However, Kaepernick would never play in the league since his salary request was considerably higher than what other players were making.

February 15, 2019

Kaepernick's lawyer announces that they have reached a settlement with the NFL, stemming from the grievance.

"The parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances," Kaepernick's lawyer, Mark Geragos said in a statement. "The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentially agreement so there will be no further comment by any party."

November 12, 2019

The NFL informs teams that they will host a private workout for Kaepernick. The free-agent quarterback also posts a statement on Twitter about how the workout came as a surprise. "I'm just getting word from my representative that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday," he wrote.

I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) November 13, 2019

Many people on social media were speculative about the workout in part due to NFL workouts typically taking place on Tuesday, which is easier for coaches and general managers to attend, rather than the day before a game.

Currently, there is little known about the workout, though Kaepernick's representatives have reportedly questioned its legitimacy and if it could be a publicity stunt by the NFL. The league has not informed Kaepernick which teams or their personnel will be present at the workout.

Colin Kaepernick
NFL announced on Tuesday that they will be holding a work out for former quarterback Colin Kaepernick Ezra Shaw/Getty

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Matthew Impelli is a Newsweek staff writer based in New York. His focus is reporting social issues and crime. In January 2023, Matthew traveled to Moscow, Idaho where he reported on the quadruple murders and arrest of Bryan Kohberger. Matthew joined Newsweek in 2019 after graduating from Syracuse University. He also received his master's degree from St. John's University in 2021. You can get in touch with Matthew by emailing m.impelli@newsweek.com. Languages: English.

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