Colin Kaepernick compared the NFL to slavery. Now he wants back in.

Colin Kaepernick
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/WireImage)

Civil rights activist and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is angling to return to the NFL after more than five years out of the game, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Kaepernick rose to prominence during the 2016 season after kneeling during pre-game national anthem performances to protest police brutality and systemic racism. He left the NFL at the conclusion of that season and has not played since. Kaepernick's supporters, including sports journalist Cecil Harris, maintain that Kaepernick was "blackballed" by the NFL.

According to the Journal, Kaepernick "spent the past week barnstorming across the country working out with NFL players" and posting videos of the workouts on social media. Kaepernick also retweeted a Sports Illustrated article in which Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett — who worked out with Kaepernick on March 14 — said the former QB "is ready" to return to the NFL.

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NFL trainer Rischad Whitfield told the Journal Kaepernick "could play for any one of" the league's 32 teams, though the Journal opined that a return after so many years away "is reasonably a longshot."

Despite his recent self-promotion, Kaepernick has done little to ingratiate himself to the NFL in the years since he left the league. In the 2021 Netflix series Colin in Black & White, Kaepernick compared playing in the NFL to slavery.

"What they don't want you to understand is what's being established is a power dynamic. Before they put you on the field, teams poke, prod and examine you. Searching for any defect that might affect your performance. No boundary respected. No dignity left intact," Kaepernick said over images that juxtaposed NFL draftees with slaves on an auction block.

The median salary for an NFL player is $860,000. Kaepernick was paid a total of $43.79 million for his five seasons in the league, plus another $10 million in a 2019 settlement.

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