ImWithKap: How Colin Kaepernick dominated Super Bowl conversations without taking the field

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Hours sooner than the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams took the field for Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, a hashtag started trending all through the nation. But it wasn’t related to each of the teams, any of their avid gamers or what could be the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in historic previous.

On Sunday, tens of 1000’s of people — along with celebrities like rapper Common, athletes like Stephen Curry and excellent activists — flooded social media with posts referencing #ImWithKap, declaring their unwavering assist for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and calling for a boycott of the championship recreation, citing the NFL’s “racist treatment” of the embattled athlete. Kaepernick has been unable to find a workforce ready to sign him since he grew to turn out to be enveloped in controversy after kneeling all through the nationwide anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and social injustice. The 31-year-old, whose actions sparked a polarizing movement that has been harshly rebuked by President Trump, has filed a collusion grievance in the direction of the NFL alleging that workforce householders banded collectively to blacklist him in the wake of the protests.

In the lead-up to the Super Bowl and thru Sunday’s broadcast, Kaepernick and related criticisms of the NFL solely fueled an undercurrent of anger that has continued to plague a league that has pitched this season as a comeback after tumultuous years punctuated by public relations blunders and low television scores, The Washington Post’s Matt Bonesteel reported.

Some potential halftime performers turned down the likelihood over Kaepernick’s remedy. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was repeatedly pressed about the quarterback’s standing all through Wednesday’s state-of-the-league deal with, drawing backlash when he appeared to skirt the questions. When a mural of Kaepernick painted on the side of an abandoned setting up in Atlanta was demolished merely days sooner than the enormous recreation, outrage abounded, prompting a movement by native artists to trade it with eight new ones all through the metropolis, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

As the Super Bowl neared, these championing Kaepernick solely began to get louder. Over the weekend, as an example, he obtained assist from fellow athletes, equal to LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who every wore specific jerseys emblazoned with Kaepernick’s amount, 7.

On Sunday, tensions surrounding Kaepernick and the NFL appeared to boil over as 1000’s took to social media, their focus not on the title recreation nonetheless on a participant who hasn’t seen the field in two years.

Since Kaepernick launched the protests, the NFL has labored in the direction of a settlement. In November 2017, the league reached an settlement with its avid gamers to donate $89 million over a seven-year interval to factors equal to jail justice reform, regulation enforcement and neighborhood relations, and education, ESPN reported. About a yr later, The Post’s Liz Clarke and Mark Maske reported that kneeling for the anthem “largely receded this year,” with solely a “handful of players” persevering with to disclose. On Sunday, in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” ahead of the Super Bowl, Trump touted the newest signing of a sweeping jail justice reform bill that was backed by the NFL, together with that he understood the protests largely stemmed from that particular scenario.

“I took care of that,” Trump talked about.

Despite the developments, Kaepernick’s supporters proudly launched boycotts, promoted his charity and continued to condemn the NFL. When the NFL aired a pregame montage that features Martin Luther King Jr., and launched his daughter Bernice King, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and civil rights pioneer Andrew Young on the field for the official coin toss, the quarterback’s followers had been quick to voice their outrage, slamming the league for “acting like they care about social justice.”

In a chronic tweet, director Ava DuVernay vowed that she would “not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today” as a consequence of the NFL’s “racist treatment” of Kaepernick and “its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players.”

“To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs,” DuVernay wrote. “It’s not worth it.”

“SAME,” tweeted actress Jodie Turner-Smith in response to DuVernay. The director’s sturdy stance was moreover echoed by journalist and author Karen Hunter, actress Rosanna Arquette and plenty of others.

Charles M. Blow, a New York Times op-ed columnist, tweeted that he used to “have a small Super Bowl party every year,” nonetheless the customized was over.

“No more! Not watching anymore,” Blow wrote. “Need to find something black-affirming to do while it’s on.”

Kaepernick appeared grateful for the encouraging messages, actively thanking his followers whereas sharing their pictures and films on his personal Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Less than an hour sooner than kickoff, Chris Lu, former White House cabinet secretary beneath President Barack Obama, recognized that #ImWithKap was trending in the United States with better than 18,300 tweets.

“Because some things are more important than a game,” Lu tweeted.

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