People are once again calling out the NFL for Colin Kaepernick’s absence from the league after the Dallas Cowboys suffered a sizable loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.
Fans of the activist and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback are arguing online that the Cowboys should sign Kaepernick, who has remained unsigned by a team since he became a free agent after the 2016 season.
Kaepernick famously led peaceful protests against racial injustice by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games. The league, which has an unsettling history of confronting racism, has been widely accused of blackballing Kaepernick for his activism.
The Dallas Cowboys lost 38-10 to the Cardinals on Monday. It was the first game the team played this season without starting quarterback Dak Prescott — and with former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton filling his spot. Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury during a game on Oct. 10.
“The Cowboys need Kaepernick lol but I’m dead serious!!!! #CowboysNeedHelp” actor/comedian Lil Rel Howery tweeted on Monday.
Other Twitter users agreed with Howery’s assessment:
The Cowboys announced that they had signed Garrett Gilbert as a third-string quarterback days after Prescott’s injury. Dalton, who was the team’s backup quarterback, moved to the starting position and the team’s former No. 3 quarterback, Ben DiNucci, moved up to the No. 2 spot.
The announcement about Gilbert signing to the team last week also renewed conversations about Kaepernick’s status in the league on Twitter.
Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones has had a particularly troubling relationship with NFL player protests.
In 2017, Jones suggested that players who kneeled during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial injustice would get benched. Jones referred to the peaceful protest as disrespectful to the American flag. Instead, he once knelt with players on the field prior to the playing of the national anthem to purportedly demonstrate unity. The team stood up when the anthem played.
The following year, Jones declared that he would not support players choosing to remain in the locker room during the anthem.
“Our policy is that you stand at the anthem, toe on the line,” Jones said during a July news conference in 2018, The Associated Press reported.
Jones has recently appeared to slightly change his public tone surrounding NFL player protests.
During a segment of his radio show last month, he said, according to the AP, “Players have issues that they need help on. And they need help along with the majority of America.”
Still, Jones noted his stance on standing during the anthem, saying, “We all do understand where I stand relative to the national anthem and the flag.”
Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, notably did not get signed by any team in the league at the start of the 2020 season.
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