Colin Kaepernick Compares NFL Draft to Slavery

Former NFL quarterback turned civil-rights activist, Colin Kaepernick, compared professional football’s draft process with modern-day slavery in his new upcoming Netflix series Colin in Black & White.

The series opens with a shot of a group of black players charging across a field in front of white coaches. Kaepernick then says, “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,” he said. “No boundary respect. No dignity left intact.” The scene then transitions into a open market of slavery, but instead it was the players who are shirtless and in shackles. They are shown to be sold off to a coach before the owner shakes hands with the coach. 

This scene quickly caught the attention of viewers and sparked controversy online after Netflix made the limited series available for streaming on Friday. While some agree with the comparison, many called it “unfair.” 

“Slaves had NO choice whereas all these men FROM ALL RACES AND CULTURE BACKGROUNDS chose to go to the combine for a chance at becoming pro and making millions,” one Twitter user wrote. 

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, who played in the NFL in the 1970s and ‘80s, also voiced his disdain for the scene by tweeting, “How dare @Kaepernick7 compare the evil endured by so many of our ancestors to a bunch of millionaires who CHOSE to play games.”

The NFL has faced criticisms over the years for not having enough black coaches and general managers. Kaepernick was a second-round draft pick in 2011 who helped lead the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl back in 2013, establishing himself as one of the league’s most dynamic quarterbacks.

However, in 2016 his career was upended when he knelt during a preseason game to protest against the racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. His decision set off a wave of similar demonstrations by many other athletes over the years, and opened up a larger conversation about racial inequalities in the country. 

Colin in Black & White was directed by Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay.  DuVernay said that the documentary is supposed to make the audience reflect beyond Kaepernick. 

“I hope people don’t leave thinking that it’s just a show about Colin,” she said. “I hope they see this as a show that can help them interrogate their own lives.”

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