His Life Now: Inside Colin Kaepernick’s Long, Inspiring Journey

His Life Now: Inside Colin Kaepernick’s Long, Inspiring Journey

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Sarah Grossbart

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Wed., Jun. 10, 2020 12:00 AM

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Now PlayingUp NextInside Colin Kaepernick’s Road to Activism

Should the call come, Colin Kaepernick is ready. 

Absent from NFL rosters for more than three years, the 32-year-old league veteran has been waiting, patiently waiting, for any team willing to take a chance on a dual-threat quarterback with quick feet, a strong arm and the emotional fortitude of a leader. 

“My desire to play football is still there,” he told USA TODAY Sports this past February, some seven years after he led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance. “I still train five days a week. I’m ready to go, I’m ready for a phone call, tryout, workout at any point in time. I’m still waiting on the owners and their partners to stop running from this situation. So I hope I get a call this offseason. I’ll be looking forward to it.

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Celebrities Attending Protests Over George Floyd’s Death

He’ll likely skip the “I told you so.”  

Four years before millions of protestors took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Sydney and Seoul, loudly demanding racial justice and systematic changes to how police forces are run, the talented athlete from Northern California was leading the charge with a silent, peaceful gesture. 

He knelt during the National Anthem. 

When considered against the searing images of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on unarmed George Floyd‘s neck as he repeatedly gasped, “I can’t breathe,” and the protests—both peaceful and destructive—that have followed, it’s almost hard to imagine something so small could incite such outrage.

And yet, it did. In the words of Kaepernick’s now infamous Nike campaign, he chose to believe in something, namely, that the systemic oppression of black people was a cause worth fighting against, “Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

As his protest grew in measure, with 49ers safety Eric Reid, former Nevada teammate Brandon Marshall and other players, including some 27 players on the Ravens and Jaguars, taking a knee, he was villainized for his views, skewered as unpatriotic despite all his evidence to the contrary. Fans burned his jersey and spoke of boycotts. Donald Trump took a hardline stance against athletes’ right to protest, declaring “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'”

Kaepernick was, indeed, forced to find a new line of work, effectively blackballed from the league despite the general consensus he was one of the more talented QB options with 72 career touchdowns and a handful of rushing records. Though his stance led to a slight moving of the chains within the league, officials agreeing to earmark $89 million in funds for players’ community activism endeavors, not one owner was willing to take a chance on signing the former second round pick. 

A 2017 grievance he filed, accusing the league and all 32 of its teams of colluding to keep him off the field, led to a confidential 2019 settlement that some thought would be a permanent benching. (Though, perhaps that could change with the league’s fresh stance on his movement and their admission that “we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”)

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I can't thank my Brother @common enough for coming to our Know Your Rights Camp in Chicago! His passion for the people is obvious in the way he speaks and interacts with them. @yourrightscamp #KnowYourRights Chicago

A post shared by colin kaepernick (@kaepernick7) on May 7, 2017 at 8:33am PDT

Pivoting into a second act as a civil rights activist, Kaepernick founded Know Your Rights Camp, an educational nonprofit committed, as its site declares, to advancing “the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities” and Kaepernick Publishing, dedicated to to highlighting work by people of color. 

Among those authors is Kaepernick himself, the University of Nevada grad eschewing the sizable advanced he could have netted for his upcoming memoir to ensure he would have full control over his narrative. “I’ve had a lot of questions surrounding what got me to the point of protesting,” the athlete, dating MTV and Hot 97 radio host Nessa, explained to USA TODAY Sports in February. “Why did I do it? Why did I do it at that moment? Why wasn’t it earlier in my career? A lot of questions surrounding what led me to that point. Which led me to wanting to share that story and give insight.”

Jennifer Cooper/E! Entertainment

The general why of it all seems fairly clear. 

Back in the summer of 2016, father of five George Floyd was making a living in Minneapolis as a truck driver and bouncer and Breonna Taylor was a 23-year-old University of Kentucky grad with a promising future in medicine—their lives seemingly stretched out in front of them. But that wasn’t the case for Alton Sterling, shot by two Baton Rouge police officers that July, Philando Castile, killed by a cop in Minnesota the next day, Charles Kinsey, shot by police in Miami not quite two weeks later and countless other black men and women, including Eric Garner, felled by a choke hold as he was arrested on suspicion of selling single cigarettes in 2014. As the deaths piled up, Kaepernick, born to a white mother and a black father, then adopted by a white family, knew he had to use his platform to take a stand. 

Or a seat, rather. 

His decision to remain on the bench during the national anthem at the 49ers Aug. 14 preseason matchup against the Houston Texans didn’t garner much attention. In fact, it wasn’t until their third game, against the Green Bay Packers, that NFL.com reporter Steve Wyche even noticed the QB seated between two coolers and decided to approach him for a conversation following the post-game conference. 

Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained, noting he’d spent quite some time working through his thoughts, speaking to various members of his family and educating himself before putting forth his plan. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

He knew that speaking out was risky, that people would have a visceral reaction to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and anything representing the American flag. But, he thought, shouldn’t the destruction of American people illicit something stronger?  

Choosing not to mention his protest to anyone in the 49ers organization, “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed,” he said. “If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

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Stars Donating to Black Lives Matter Organizations

Which is pretty much exactly what happened.

Though Kaepernick kicked off the regular season with the league’s top-selling jersey, he spent 16 games listening to boos rain down on him. That didn’t change even after he announced his intentions to donate the first $1 million of his $11.9 million salary to charity or after he switched from sitting to taking a knee, a move suggested during a lengthy, heartfelt conversation with Green Beret and Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer because, as the army veteran put it on HBO’s Real Sports, “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect.” 

Frustrated that his message was being misinterpreted, Kaepernick explained his stance in a post-game interview that September. “I’m not anti-American. I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better,” he said. “I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from. Those conversations are important to have, because the better we understand each other, the better we know each other, the better we can deal and communicate with each other, which ultimately makes everyone, puts everybody in a better position.”

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Perhaps everyone except Kaepernick. Following a disappointing season that saw the 49ers notch just two wins despite Kaepernick throwing for 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions, he opted out of his contract and was not among the batch of quarterbacks signed to new teams—a situation that has remained for three years, despite more than a few professional opinions that he has the chops to take the field. 

In a recent CNN op-ed, former league spokesperson Joe Lockhart declared it’s well past time for team owners to overlook the potential financial backlash from ticket holders and sign Kaepernick to a squad, a stance shared by many fans, sports reporters and the athlete’s own industry peers. “I think the reality is that also Colin Kaepernick is a talented football player,” Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson told reporters during a 30-minute Zoom call last week (per the Seattle Post-Intelligencer). “I remember playing against him. The man could play some football.”

Todd Kirkland/AP/Shutterstock

Can, in fact, still play some football—a fact made evident during a November tryout. 

Refusing to play ball with the league’s demands that he sign a liability waiver and keep the workout largely closed off to press, Kaepernick moved the whole operation from the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility to a high school more than an hour away. Scouts from eight teams watched as he targeted receivers with crisp, long passes. And yet his number remained uncalled. 

“I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why,” he said after the session. “I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody.”

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Black Lives Matter: In Stars’ Own Words

Just as he’s been showing out in the fight against police brutality for the past 46 months, his peaceful protest seeming all the more poignant in the wake of yet more deaths this spring. 

“The reality was he was trying to symbolize oppression that was going on in America, and has been going on for 400 years,” Seahawks’ Wilson said in his June session with reporters. “The reality is that what Colin was trying to do was try to do the right thing in trying to stand up, figuratively, for what has been going on in America….People may have taken that the wrong way, but he was trying to do the right thing. That’s the bottom line. He stood up in so many amazing ways to really stand up for black lives and what’s going on and the oppression of what’s going on and people being murdered. It’s the right thing that he’s been trying to do.”

Nike

And he says he’ll continue to do so for as long as is necessary. 

new legal defense initiative through his Know Your Rights Camp was created to provide legal representation for arrested protestors and he posted to Instagram that they’re also preparing to file civil rights cases against the police.

“When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction,” he wrote in a now-pinned May 28 tweet. “The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance. We have the right to fight back!”

As always, he’s ready to lead the charge.

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Lana Condor: Inside My Self-Care Routine

Lana Condor: Inside My Self-Care Routine

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Tierney Bricker

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Wed., Jun. 10, 2020 12:00 AM

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Now PlayingUp NextLana Condor Likes a Little Drama in Her Love Life

To All the Self-Care Routines We’ve Loved Before…get ready for Lana Condor‘s.

OK, that was cheesy, but we’re very excited to bring you the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before star’s wellness routine as part of our Wellness Wednesday series.

The 23-year-old is one of #AerieEAL’s role models and her self-care routine is the definition of real, from the three things she does every day to her easy go-to beauty routine. 

But one thing Lana said that really stuck with us, especially as there is a lot going on in the world right now? “We tend to beat ourselves up all the time, comparing ourselves with others, feeling like we aren’t doing enough, or that we aren’t enough,” she said. “And I always say we need to be kinder to ourselves and soft. We need to talk to ourselves that way we’d talk to our best friends or loved one.”

Self-love is also self-care and it’s so important, so make the time to take care of yourself the way you do for others.

Here’s Lana’s self-care routine, including her favorite way to break a sweat and her reading recommendations: 

Affirmation or Mantra You Tell Yourself:

 “Greatness is Coming.”

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How to Self-Care at Home Like the Stars

Three Things You Try to Do Each Day & Why You Feel It’s Important to Do These?

I try and read every single day. It grounds me and makes me feel in control. And I absolutely love thriller novels, so it keeps me entertained. I also feel like pleasure reading everyday keeps your brain active and your body calm. I also drink at least half my body weight, in ounces, of water every day. Staying hydrated is such a must- and I genuinely feel better when my body is fully hydrated. And I two walks a day, with my puppy, is always a must. Of course, for Emmy, but also to keep my body active and fresh air always makes me feel better. Some days, when I am having a really hard time waking up, I’ll go on an early chilly walk with Emmy and it sets such an awesome energized tone for the rest of my day.

Lana Condor/Aerie; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration

Social Media Account You Follow for Positivity & What Do You Love About This Account?

 I love following @_hi_anxiety_. The account was created to help better deal with anxiety. And what I love about it, is that it created a safe place for people to feel heard and understood and not so alone, in their mental health struggles. They post daily affirmations and quotes that are so relatable. And they post tips and tricks to help manage your mental health in a positive way.

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The Best Current Comfort Food TV

Your Favorite Way to Break a Sweat Right Now:

Honestly, my favorite way to break a sweat right now is playing VR. We got a virtual reality headset, right as everything was shutting down, and it’s been AMAZING during quarantine. There are so many games that make you work up a sweat and it’s so awesome. I am genuinely so sore after I play. I love to wear AERIE’s new high waisted biker shorts because there so breathable and flexi, while also making me feel safe and secure. They are great to use when you’re breaking a sweat, whether its playing VR or going for a run! I like to pair them with the new AERIE real “free tank bralette” for extra support on the top. Throw on one of their “distressed crew neck t-shirt” and you have a full, stylish, workout look!

E! Illustration

Your Go-To Snack:

My go- to snack is canned oysters. I know that might sound weird, but I am absolutely obsessed with canned oysters. They are such a good source of protein, magnesium and vitamin C. They are so tasty and always fill me up. I eat them straight out of the can, but sometimes if I want some extra carbs, I’ll eat them with crackers and the crunch of the cracker with the soft oyster is so good!

Your Go-To Healthy Recipe:

My go-to healthy recipe is always just a nice piece of fresh salmon, roasted Brussels sprouts in sunflower oil, and potatoes. Sometimes I’ll just put a little citrus and salt on my salmon, other days I’ll put some marinara sauce on the salmon, and it is so delicious.

Your No. 1 Self-Care Tip:

I feel like a broken record, but HYDRATION, is the number one self-care tip I can give!!! That and being really gentle and soft with yourself. We tend to beat ourselves up all the time, comparing ourselves with others, feeling like we aren’t doing enough, or that we aren’t enough. And I always say we need to be kinder to ourselves and soft. We need to talk to ourselves that way we’d talk to our best friends or loved one.

You Can’t Go to Bed Without Doing This: 

I can’t go to bed without flossing. I’m addicted to flossing and if I miss a day, I truly can’t sleep!

Your Go-To Indulgence:

My forever go- to indulgence is any type of pasta, and lots of delicious sauce. Although, I would not call it an indulgence because I honestly eat pasta every single day. When I am indulging in a big bowl of pasta I definitely like to be cozy and comfy! I try and stay away from anything that has too big of sleeves because I don’t want to accidentally get sauce on them! So I freaking love to wear this new “Easy knit midi dress” from AERIE’s new collection. It’s so comfortable and breathable, while also looking effortlessly chic if I’m doing a big bowl of pasta for date night. I like to tie it at the bottom in a knot to also style it up!

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Lana Condor’s Most Relatable Moments

Your Go-To Easy Beauty Routine:

Hydration is KEY! Lately I haven’t been wearing a ton of makeup, so skin care and hydration has been my everything. I start with cleansing my face with my cleanser and face brush. Then I use a lemon wipe that I got in Korea, all over my face to brighten it. Then I use my serum, moisturizer, and finally eye cream. I never leave the house without using eye cream!

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Your Current Feel-Good Song & Why Does It Make You Feel Good?

My current favorite feel good song is “We’re Gonna Be Alright,” by Before You Exit. I love this song because it just makes me feel hopeful for the future. And in moments of panic it really soothes me.

What Is Making You the Happiest Right Now:

Reading with my puppy on my lap is my peace right now. It makes me so happy to have that stillness and her warmth on my lap!

Reading Recommendations:

The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes and Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

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