As a professional athlete, you have to be willing to start at the bottom. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made it clear he’d do just that. In a letter shared by friend and rapper J. Cole, Kaepernick wrote a letter to the New York Jets on September 21st in a desperate attempt to land a practice squad spot. The Jets starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, suffered a season-ending injury to his Achilles on September 11th, just four snaps into his career with the Jets.
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Colin Kaepernick gained a lot of attention during the 2016 NFL preseason as he peacefully protested police brutality and social injustice, both of which were hot topics at the time. That summer consisted of several shootings of unarmed black men, and that struck a nerve in Kaepernick. His protests, which included kneeling during the national anthem, made national headlines and athletes of all sports made a statement by following in his footsteps. In one interview, he 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.”
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These protests carried on, and Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers and became a free agent in March 2017. According to reports, the 49ers told Kaepernick that he would be released by the team, explaining that he didn’t fit into future head coach Kyle Shanahan’s plans. Later that year, he filed a grievance against the NFL, expressing that team owners were colluding by refusing to sign him and keep him out of the NFL. Ultimately, Kaepernick won his grievances, and the NFL paid out just under $10 million. Kaepernick has been a free agent since.
The letter was recently released in which Colin Kaepernick implores the Jets to put him on their practice squad, which he says would help get their defense ready each week. Kaepernick also claimed that he’s sure he can provide the Jets with an elite quarterback option if “God forbid, QB1 goes down.” The letter was written in a last-chance attempt to establish a relationship with a team, and it was done eloquently.
“Worst case scenario, you see what I have to offer and you’re not that impressed. Best case scenario, you realize you have a real weapon at your disposal in the event you ever need to use it. In either of these scenarios, I would be committed to getting your defense ready week in and week out, all season long, and I would wear that responsibility like a badge of honor.”
After Aaron Rodgers’s season-ending injury, Zach Wilson was promoted to starting quarterback. Though the second overall draft pick of 2021, Wilson has struggled in his two seasons with the Jets—hence the addition of Rodgers to the roster. Wilson has played through Weeks 2 and 3 but is receiving a surplus of criticism from figures whose opinions matter most, like franchise icon Joe Namath. Namath regarded Wilson’s performance against the New England Patriots as “disgusting” and that he’s “seen enough” of the third-year quarterback. Unfortunately, though, Zach Wilson ranks 33rd of 34 qualified passers when it comes to the total QBR (quarterback rankings), with only Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears below him.
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Kaepernick, though sure of his capabilities, may have his best days behind him. In his six-season NFL career, he threw for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns, also leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2013. But that was 10 years ago. Kaepernick played his last NFL game in a 25-23 loss to the Seahawks in 2017. At the ripe age of 35, it may be too late for a new franchise to accommodate Kaepernick’s requests.
While the situation is still in development, the New York Jets have yet to respond to Kaepernick’s plea. The team currently has three quarterbacks on their roster, and though that department is lacking, they may not be willing to add another. Regardless of the outcome, the humility and determination in the letter earns Kaepernick an undeniable respect. His best days may be behind him, but the hustle clearly remains.
Read the letter in its entirety here.