Colin Kaepernick has his platform. He has the support of the San Francisco 49ers franchise, and the attention of media, the NFL and a sizable portion of the American public.
So, what next?
Kaepernick hasn’t been idle in recent days. Beyond meeting with Nate Boyer – a Green Beret and former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper – Kaepernick has spent this week talking to a few athletes and leaders who have had significant points of social and civic impact over the past several decades, sources told Yahoo Sports. Among them have been former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, former Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and civil rights activists Dr. Harry Edwards and Dr. Amos Brown.
The point of the conversations, according to multiple sources, has been to take what started as a controversial protest and move it into a more active and impactful direction. Kaepernick is seeking to take a step forward from talking about the “why” of his views on social injustice, and move into the “how” of creating progressive resolutions.
What that means hasn’t solidified yet. But it appears to be headed into the direction of more active, goal-oriented dialogue with police departments, social leaders and even legislators. And perhaps with the help of some more NFL players, too.
After Thursday night’s game, Kaepernick told reporters he’d donate $1 million to charities that supported social justice causes. He is scheduled to earn $11.9 million in base salary this season.
“I have to help these people. I have to help these communities,” Kaepernick said.
There have been some behind-the-scenes talks with other players who have entertained supporting Kaepernick in his pregame protest of sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. Niners safety Eric Reid took part a few days before Thursday’s preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers. Both took a knee for the anthem. Elsewhere, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane sat during the anthem before Thursday’s exhibition against the Oakland Raiders. Those numbers could continue to grow.
Kaepernick’s anthem protest may take on some evolutionary phases, too. After speaking with Boyer about the nature of his protest, Kaepernick chose to take a knee during the anthem rather than sit on the bench. He also stood and applauded when there was a second-quarter break in the game and veterans throughout the stadium were recognized for their service.
There is a more pointed goal to the actions Kaepernick is taking now, sources have said. He’s tailoring his message so that it is projecting more directly toward social issues and not simply the symbol of the American flag. That refinement and focus is expected to continue as he seeks out an audience with other influential social leaders and lawmakers.
Whether he ever stands again for the anthem is anyone’s guess. But sources left little doubt about whether Kaepernick is going to continue to push boundaries with his message.
He will. But if the past few days are any indication, he’s preparing to move the focus a little further than a pregame NFL sideline.