Colin Kepernick is getting his first opportunity to practice for an NFL team since his last game in the league in 2016 when he knelt during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial discrimination.
Two people familiar with the situation said that Kepernick would work for the Las Vegas Riders on Thursday (AEST). People spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce a workout plan. ESPN first reported that the Raiders were bringing in Copernicus.
Copernicus has not played since the end of the 2016 season when he was cut by San Francisco when the new regime led by coach Kyle Shanahan wanted to move the quarterback in a different direction.
Kepernick never got another chance to work for NFL teams because he complained that he had been blackballed for his protests during music the previous season. He met with Seattle and had informal talks with Baltimore but never got to see each other closely.
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He filed a complaint with the NFL in 2017 for lack of opportunity and disposed of it in 2019 – but has yet to receive a notice.
The Riders have hired Tom Flores as the second coach of Hispanic descent, Art Shell as the first black trainer in modern history, and Amy Trask as the first female CEO.
Owner Mark Davis has publicly stated that he will support his coaches if they want to keep an eye on Copernicus, and first-year coach Josh McDaniels is doing just that.
The Raiders haven’t had a bright need for quarterbacks since starter Derek Carr signed on for an extension last month. Las Vegas signed Nick Mullins as a backup this season, traded for Jarrett Steedam and signed Chase Garbers as an undefeated free agent.
But none of these backups have the genealogy of Kepernick, who emerged as one of the league’s youngest stars when he took over as a starter in San Francisco in 2012 and helped the Niners reach the Super Bowl that season.
Kaepernick’s game began to falter in 2014 and he was injured in the second half of the following season and lost his starting job. Things changed in the next preseason when Copernicus began protesting during the national anthem, drawing the ire of critics, including then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Kaepernick got his starting job back in 2016 and had 16 TD passes and four interceptions in 12 games while posting a 90.7 passer rating.
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