Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton shared his thoughts Tuesday about the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster.
“I really think it’s unfair,” said Newton during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s unfair.”
Kaepernick has made constant global headlines since the beginning of last season, when he took a knee during the national anthem before a game in what he later said was a reaction to the shootings of black men and women by police officers that had inspired protests around the country that year.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media after the game.
Kaepernick has since been released by the 49ers and has not been signed to an NFL team. Reports surfaced this summer that indicated the quarterback, who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012, was being “blackballed” by the league.
Kaepernick has since pledged $1 million in donations to charitable organizations working in opressed communities (he has thus far donated $800,000 to various groups), and began the “Know Your Rights” camp for young people, the mission of which is to “raise awareness on higher education, self-empowerment and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.”
After roster cuts and waiver signings last week, however, Kaepernick remains unsigned by an NFL team.
“In my opinion, do I think that Kaepernick is better than some of the starting quarterbacks in this league? Absolutely,” said Newton. “Should he be on a roster, in my opinion? Absolutely. There is no question about it.
“Is he good enough to be on a roster? Is he good enough to be a starting quarterback? Absolutely. But our main focus right now is trying to beat the 49ers on Sunday.”
Neither Newton nor any of his teammates in Carolina have publicly protested during the national anthem.
Head coach Ron Rivera was decidedly less vocal about the topic later that afternoon, when asked by reporters what he thought about Newton’s comments.
“I don’t have an opinion on that,” he said. “I mean, I know what our situation is here. I like our quarterbacks...
“I can’t speak for what the other 31 teams are looking for in a quarterback. But like I said, I’m really pleased with who we have here.”