NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Colin Kaepernick is reportedly ending his protest.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources, that Kaepernick plans to stand for the national anthem next season. The news comes a day after Kaepernick’s agents said the quarterback will opt out of his contract with the 49ers, making him a free agent.
Kaepernick began refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the 2016 preseason to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States. He continued the protest throughout the season, and many other NFL players later joined him.
“To me this is something that has to change,” Kaepernick said in August. “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
While many players and fans supported Kaepernick, others were to quick to criticize him. Donald Trump, then a presidential candidate, said the quarterback “should find a country that works better for him.” Kaepernick also said he received death threats.
Schefter reported that Kaepernick “no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change that he believes has been created.” Kaepernick also believes the amount of national discussion on social inequality affirmed his message, ESPN reported.
On Twitter, many were questioning the timing of Kaepernick dropping his protest.
The 49ers selected Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft. A year later, he led San Francisco to the Super Bowl. But the once-promising star has struggled mightily over the past two seasons, being yanked in and out of the lineup and going just 3-16 as a starter.