Colin Kaepernick made a statement by wearing a “Kunta Kinte” shirt to his NFL workout Saturday.

After being exiled by the NFL for three years, Kaepernick was finally invited to demonstrate his athleticism during a workout session, but he made sure to send a message to the league that he was not backing down or changing who he is in order to get signed, reports CNN.



Kunta Kinte is the main character in Alex Haley’s 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of An American Family, which was later turned into a miniseries. Kinte was kidnapped from Africa and forced into slavery in the American South. His owner attempted to rename him Toby, but Kinte refused to accept the name change and was therefore whipped repeatedly. After Kinte attempts to escape multiple times, his owner cuts off half his foot to ensure it won't happen again.

The character is often referenced in pop culture to depict the Black struggle.

This isn’t the first time Kaepernick has worn the t-shirt. He was also photographed wearing it in 2018 on his way to a deposition for his case against the NFL and charges of collusion. Saturday wasn't the first time the 32-year-old has used clothing as a form of protest, either. During a training camp in August 2016, he wore socks with pigs in police hats. In a press conference two months later, he wore a t-shirt showing a photo of Fidel Castro and Malcolm X.

Now, many people are criticizing Kaep and his handling of the workout session as well as his choice of attire on Saturday.

“If you’re interviewing for a job would you wear a shirt that is that polarizing to your job interview? ...You think that gives you the best opportunity to get said job? No it does not,” ESPN analyst Damien Woody said on Twitter.



He’s also come under fire for changing the time and location of the workout. Originally, it was set to be held at the Atlanta Falcons’ facility, but Kaepernick opted for a local high school and a later time instead, reports CBS. The workout set up by the league was supposed to be closed to the media, and they asked the athlete to sign a liability waiver. He allegedly refused and did the opposite. 

The ex-49ers player released a statement about the change, calling for transparency throughout the process, requesting the media be there to film the workout.


Sports analysts and fans are now condemning Kaepernick, calling Saturday a “publicity stunt” and saying he mustn't want to play again. 

Despite the criticism, supporters are applauding him for taking control of the situation, recognizing that his talent is still superior and asserting the only reason the NFL still won’t offer him a job is because of his protests.



Before leaving on Saturday, the quarterback made a statement saying he’s been ready to play for three years.

“I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why. I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide. So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people,” he said.