Colin Kaepernick has been in the news a lot lately as he remains unsigned and available on the free-agent market. We’ve seen guys like Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick find jobs, but Kaepernick is still waiting.
Many believe this is due to his national anthem protest last year, when he took a knee for what he believes in. Dr. Harry Edwards went as far as to say he’s this generation’s Muhammad Ali, and on Friday’s “Undisputed,” Shannon Sharpe shared his thoughts.
Dr. Harry Edwards: 'He's this generation's Ali'
Kaepernick is in a similar position to Ali's
"I’ve said this, and I do agree because I believe in 15, 20, 50 years from now, history will look fondly upon Colin Kaepernick and the stance that he took for the betterment of minorities. See, people have a hard time looking at Colin Kaepernick as a Dr. King, as a Muhammed Ali, or as a Ms. Rosa Parks because they’re looking at these iconic figures 50 years after the fact.
"But I can assure you that when Ms. Parks did what she did, I think in 1955, I’m sure there were some blacks in her very community that said, ‘Why wouldn’t she give up her seat? She had given up her seat so many times before, why is she causing a scene now?’
"Just like they said about Colin Kaepernick, 'This police brutality has been going on, why now?' I’m sure when Muhammad Ali took the stance that he took -- and Dr. Harry Edwards was one of the organizers of the Black Summit, of the prominent black athletes that came together to show their support for Muhammad Ali -- they asked, ‘Why wouldn’t he go fight?’ And Muhammad Ali asked, ‘Why am I going to go kill some Vietkong? They’re not here turning their dogs on me. They’re not firing water hoses on me, but you want me to go over there and kill them?’ "
Getty ImagesRobert Riger
At some point, Kaepernick had an epiphany
"I’m sure they said the very same thing about Dr. King: ‘He’s a troublemaker. He’s a rabble-rouser.’ … They did everything they could to undermine him. ‘If you do not like the message, let’s try and undermine and discredit the messenger.’ Some of the very things that Colin Kaepernick is going through.
"… At some point in time – I don’t know when, I don’t know where, I don’t know how – but Colin Kaepernick had an evolution, had an epiphany that he had a greater calling than playing football, playing quarterback in the NFL"
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
We can't measure his impact just yet
"I’m torn about this one … I’ve told you before, Muhammad Ali was my favorite athlete growing up. I’ve also said several times that Colin Kaepernick has had profound national impact. He wound up on the cover of Time Magazine, he opened a whole lot of eyes and ears and hearts and heads. He opened up souls of some white people to say, ‘Oh yeah, this is a real problem.’
"I can’t measure the impact of that right now because we’re in the moment of it, so I’m not sure how it’s going to play out, and we won’t know for sure until we can all step back in however many years it takes to frame it correctly, but I was such an Ali fan because of the ground he was breaking in the ‘60s."
Kelvin KuoKelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kaepernick didn't realize how much he had to lose
"[Muhammad Ali] proclaimed himself as the greatest, and he backed it up. And then he proclaimed victory after victory, he would do something you just couldn’t do. Namath did it once, he held up his finger after the Super Bowl – he guaranteed a victory – but Ali guaranteed victory every time, and backed it up every time. … He was saying to black people everywhere, ‘Just be yourself. Embrace who you are. Embrace your nature, embrace who we are, and don’t be afraid to speak your own mind.’ And I think it had a profound impact on a racially torn country that was even more racially torn than we are now in so many other ways.
"It just seemed like he had so much more to give up, he had proved so much more than Colin has been able to prove yet, and I’m not sure that Colin, when he began his protest last season, thought that he had this much to lose where he could lose his whole career."