It's hard to argue that Colin Kaepernick's protest hasn't had a positive impact on some who are willing to learn. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Kaepernick protest spurs growth for those willing to listen

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a national discussion a couple months ago when he started his protest of police brutality by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

As a result, people in all walks of life were asked for their reactions to the protest that caused many to bristle.

In sports, some key figures came down hard with criticism for the Niners’ starting quarterback, which is fine and certainly their right as Americans.

But in 2016, we live in a world of continual backlash.

Exhibit A: Hall of Famer Jerry Rice tweeted weeks ago, “All lives matter. So much going on in this world today. “Can we all just get along! Colin, I respect your stance but don’t disrespect the flag.” He was roasted by left-leaning circles for employing a phrase — “All lives matter — that is used to silence those fighting against systemic racism in this country. (Those who fight because “Black Lives Matter” aren’t saying that others don’t, or matter any less. They’re simply saying that black lives matter, too, which should go without saying.)

Exhibit B: Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander posted a message before a recent MLB playoffs game in a similar vein, “Just sang the Canadian national anthem on TBS and we here in America can’t stand together for our anthem. #alllivesmatter #TogetherStronger.”

Exhibit C: North Carolina men’s basketball head coach Roy Williams said when he first learned of the protest, it made him “very angry”, explaining his mindset to The News & Observer as, “The guy’s making $19 million — what do you have to say against our country?”

But what’s been encouraging is how all three of these legends, chose to listen to those they were casting aside with their earliest reactions.

“When I said {All Lives Matter} I didn’t know about the movement going on between {Black Lives Matter},” Rice tweeted, issuing a mea culpa. “I want to apologize for my mistake!”

Verlander followed suit a few days later, “I apologize for using # all lives matter. I was uninformed of its racial implications. I completely agree change is necessary! I meant… that I hope we can all stand together to see that change happens.”

And Williams admitted he “listened better” and realized, “He wasn’t saying this was a bad country. He said we’ve got not just one particular problem, but one particular problem he was taking a stance on, and I think he’s correct.”

You can argue any cynical reasoning you want about the inner-workings that led to them issuing apologies and evolving. I’m not going to pretend to be a mind-reader. Instead, I’ll commend them for their growth and hope we as a society can learn from the example these men have set.

Kaepernick deal restructured

Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers came to terms for a restructured deal that strips away any injury guarantees, according to NFL.com.

The new contract allows the franchise to play the quarterback without risk of paying him $14.5 million in 2017 had he sustained a serious injury this year. It also eliminates the last three years of the six-year pact. So, he can walk as a free agent at the end of the season.

Which, if the reports of his chilly relationship with general manager Trent Baalke and the 49ers front office are even remotely true, he should be expected to utilize that freedom.

I don’t expect he’ll be able to land a new deal easily. The NFL is a money-making operation above all else, and I highly doubt Kaepernick’s political alignment endears himself to the leaders of a capitalistic powerhouse. But I’ll repeat what I wrote earlier this season: I hope he plays so well, they don’t have a choice but to keep him in the league.

 Colin Kaepernickjacob c. palmerJustin Verlanderroy williamsSan Francisco 49ers

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