Facts You Might Not Know About Colin Kaepernick

Athletes | 12/19/19

Colin Kaepernick entered the league as a relatively unknown player from the University of Nevada. But once he got his shot with the 49ers, he became one of the upper-level quarterbacks playing in the NFL. But almost as quickly as he became a star, his career was over.

Most fans know that Kaepernick protested police brutality during each week’s national anthem. But a lot of fans don’t know what he’s been up to since his career ended.

He Was Adopted As A Newborn

He Was Adopted As A Newborn
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick’s birth parents had separated soon before he was born and opted to put the baby up for adoption. Rick and Theresa Kaepernick decided to bring the baby into their home alongside two other children.

The couple had lost two children to heart defects. Colin was initially adopted and brought home in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin. When he was four, the family moved to Turlock, California, and that is where he was raised.

An Athlete From An Early Age

An Athlete From An Early Age
G Fiume/Getty Images
G Fiume/Getty Images

From the time he was very young, it was always clear that Colin was an athlete. He participated in a number of different sports, from baseball to basketball to football. When he first hit the gridiron, he was initially a defensive end and punter.

Eventually, coaches caught on that he had serious throwing ability and Kaepernick was moved to quarterback. He was also quite a good basketball player, making the all-central California first team as a forward.

A Baseball Stud

GettyImages-171087423
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick is obviously a very skilled football player. And he was also an all-city basketball player during his high school days. But the sport where he showed the most initial promise was baseball.

Following high school, he had to decide on whether to accept a baseball or football scholarship. He chose to play quarterback at the University of Nevada. Still, the athlete was drafted in the 43rd round by the Chicago Cubs in 2009.

Kaepernick Blew Up The NFL Combine

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Playing in the WAC Conference for Nevada, Kaepernick wasn’t scouted as heavily as a quarterback from the SEC or Big Ten might be. The combine was the first time that many scouts got to see what he brought to the table.

And they left very impressed. In addition to showing off his very impressive arm strength, Kaepernick also showed NFL teams just how fast he was. He ran a 4.53 forty yard dash at the combine, an elite time for a quarterback.

Initially He Was A Gadget Guy

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Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images

While the Niners had drafted Kaepernick in 2011, that didn’t mean that he was going to be the immediate starter. Alex Smith remained the starter and the 49ers became one of the elite teams in the NFL, going 13-3.

Colin only attempted five passes in his rookie year. He saw a lot more action in his second season. The 49ers began to work him into packages that would highlight his running ability and he scored a 7-yard touchdown against the Jets.

He Ended His Nevada Career By Defeating Boise State

He Ended His Nevada Career By Defeating Boise State
Steve Conner/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images
Steve Conner/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

Colin was redshirted during his initial year at Nevada. Following that season, though, he started 51 games over the next four years. And he was quite a dual threat for the Wolfpack.

Kaepernick routinely threw and ran for an astonishing number of yards. During his senior season, the quarterback combined for 41 rushing and passing touchdowns. In that same senior season, Nevada beat Boise State, snapping the WAC powerhouse’s string of 24 straight victories.

He Was Also A Star Student

He Was Also A Star Student
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

It can be hard for college athletes, with their full schedules, to keep up with their studies. Kaepernick was able to keep up with his studies and more during his time at Nevada. He finished school with a 4.0 grade point average.

These smarts showed during the NFL Draft process. Colin achieved a score of 38 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test given to all NFL prospects. The quarterback has also discussed the possibility of attending business school.

Despite Having Alex Smith, The 49ers Traded Up For Kaepernick

49ers Traded Up For Kaepernick
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

The 49ers drafted Alex Smith 1st overall during the 2005 NFL Draft. While he wasn’t a superstar, he had developed into a steady and reliable starter. That didn’t stop the Niners from drafting Kaepernick when they had a chance, though.

San Francisco didn’t just draft the quarterback from Nevada, they traded up in the draft to do so. The 49ers moved up from the 45th spot in the draft to the 36th, trading three of their selections to the Denver Broncos to do this.

When He Got His Chance, He Was Ready

He Was Ready
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick spent a lot of his time on the bench during his first season and a half in San Francisco. During that time, though, he stayed in shape and ready for his opportunity.

That chance came during a November 2012 game when Alex Smith went down with a concussion. Entering the game against the Rams in the second half, Colin threw for 117 yards, and ran for 66 more adding a touchdown. The game ended in a 24-24 tie.

Kaepernick’s Faith Is Very Important To Him

Faith Is Very Important To Him
Paul Marotta/Getty Images
Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick was baptized in the Methodist Church and raised Lutheran. During college, he attended Baptist services and regularly talks about his relationship with God. He said in 2013, “I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I’m at.”

The quarterback has a number of tattoos dedicated to his faith including the phrases, “To God the Glory,” “Heaven Sent,” and “God Will Guide Me.”

He Signed A Partnership With Disney

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Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

In 2020, Disney announced that it had signed a partnership deal with Kaepernick. The unlikely pairing with begin by producing a docuseries on his life that will air exclusively on ESPN.

The deal will also include programs that are both scripted and unscripted and deal with matters of social and racial unrest in society. The big news comes shortly after a similar deal between Kaepernick, filmmaker Ava Duvernay, and Netflix was announced.

He Eats A Vegan Diet

 Vegan Diet
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Kaepernick was always in fantastic shape during his playing career. In order to stay in shape as he attempts to get back into the NFL, the quarterback has become a vegan. He also follows the diet for ethical reasons.

Some NFL teams have reportedly used the diet as a reason why they wouldn’t be interested in signing the quarterback. Some of the other reasons teams have used for not signing Kaepernick are his many tattoos and propensity for wearing backward baseball hats.

There Is A Show In Development About Kaepernick’s Childhood

Show In Development About Kaepernick's Childhood
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Colin Kaepernick’s childhood was interesting enough that the story of it is being developed into a television show. And the person working on the show, Ava DuVernay, is no lightweight. She has worked on critically acclaimed projects like Selma and When They See Us.

DuVernay says that she plans on the show being both dramatic as well as comedic. The filmmaker says that viewers can expect to see a combination of Friday Night Lights and Everybody Hates Chris.

His Touchdown Dance Is Trademarked

Touchdown Dance
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There are many legendary touchdown celebrations. Tony Gonzalez would dunk the ball on the goalpost. Ernest Givens would do the electric slide. And, of course, Tim Tebow would Tebow. Colin Kaepernick would celebrate by kissing his bicep.

The touchdown celebration from the 49ers quarterback had a name. It was known as Kaepernicking and the QB trademarked the name. He used the trademark to make up t-shirts and proceeds from sales of the shirts helped kids with heart defects go to camp.

The 49ers Rewarded Him With A Massive Extension In 2014

Massive Extension In 2014
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It didn’t take long for the 49ers to make Kaepernick their quarterback of the future. The team dealt Alex Smith before the 2013 season. After a year and a half of fine play, the team rewarded Colin with a massive contract extension.

The contract called on the 49ers to pay Kaepernick a total of $126 million over the next six seasons and included $61 million in guaranteed dollars. The guaranteed money was, at the time, the most ever given to any player.

His Long Time Girlfriend Is Nessa Diab

Nessa Diab
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

In 2015, Colin Kaepernick began dating Nessa Diab. Like the quarterback, Diab is often in the public eye. She is a prominent radio host who has regularly appeared on television as well.

And Nessa, who was a radio host on New York’s Hot 97, has had her boyfriend’s back through thick and thin. The pair, who met in San Francisco while Colin played for the 49ers, frequently gush about each other on social media.

Kaepernick Is Incredibly Charitable

Charitable
KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images
KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

After he stopped playing football, Colin Kaepernick dedicated himself to philanthropy. In 2016, the quarterback made good on his pledge to donate over $1 million to a number of different charities.

One charity that was especially meaningful to him is called 100 Suits for 100 Men. The organization helps to dress men who have fallen on hard times or had previously been incarcerated look sharp for interviews. Kaepernick has donated dozens of his own suits to the organization, in addition to giving money.

Nike Saw A Boost In Sales After Using Kaepernick In A Campaign

Nike
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

In 2018, Nike released a new ad featuring the former quarterback. The campaign was tagged “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Many claimed that Nike’s sales would be hurt by placing the controversial athlete in a campaign.

Pretty much the exact opposite happened, though. The ad campaign was an absolute success for the company. The same week the spot was released, Nike saw a 31% increase in sales. The numbers were also up over the course of the year.

Harvard Awarded Him A Top Honor For African American Studies

Harvard honors
Paul Marotta/Getty Images
Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Kaepernick’s continued work within his community has not gone unnoticed. In 2018, Harvard awarded the former quarterback the W.E.B. Du Bois medal. The medal recognizes those who contribute to African and African American culture.

While receiving the award, Kaepernick was in good company. Awarded alongside him in 2018 were Dave Chapelle and Kehinde Wiley. Previous recipients of the honor include Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, and Congressman John Lewis.

Kaepernick Settled With The NFL In 2019

Settled With The NFL
Gotham/GC Images
Gotham/GC Images

Following the 2016 season, Colin Kaepernick became a free agent. Despite his impressive track record, no team was willing to sign him as their quarterback. The player, thinking something was fishy, sued the NFL for colluding to keep him out of the league.

He was joined in the suit by former teammate Eric Reid, who remains in the league, but seemingly at a lower salary than would be expected for a player of his level. Kaepernick and Reid eventually settled with the league, receiving a cash settlement that has yet to be revealed.

During A Recent Workout Kaepernick Showed He’s Still In Shape

Colin Kaepernick looks on during his NFL workout
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The NFL recently worked with Kaepernick to set up a workout in front of nearly all the teams in the league. While there were some timing hiccups, the workout eventually took place in Atlanta, Georgia.

The former NFL star was joined by former pro players like Bruce Ellington and Brice Butler. He threw a large number of deep balls to show NFL teams that he still had his arm strength. He also showed up in fantastic physical shape, appearing ready to reenter the league. As of yet, no team has signed him.

He Audited A UC Berkeley Class

the quarterback
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

We mentioned that he was a smart pupil, but that intelligence stuck with him even after leaving college. In 2016, Kaepernick audited a summer course at U.C. Berkeley on black representation in pop culture.

Professor Ameer Hasan Loggins always speaks highly of the quarterback. “When I talk to my students about Colin, I always emphasize that when he audited my course, he (driving from San Jose to Berkeley) had his [expletive] in class on time, every day, taking notes, doing the readings and participating in class discussions,” Loggins said.

Making The Call

calls
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Something that venues do is try and get in contact with season-ticket holders to encourage them to renew the passes. Kaepernick’s old school had made some calls to their loyalists for an upcoming season when the quarterback decided to join.

One of his calls happened to be with a woman who recently lost her husband. She didn’t have the means to afford the season-tickets, so Kaepernick bought them for her. That’s a kind guy for you.

The Man Loves Candy

usher
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Ripple Of Hope Awards
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Ripple Of Hope Awards

Everyone has their vices. Reality TV, soda, and sweets are just a few that come to mind. For Colin Kaepernick, he enjoys Sour Patch Kids a ton. The candy that’s sour at first then sweet, yeah, he’s in love.

He adores it so much that while he played for the 49ers, they gave him a special surprise. The team baked him a cake shaped like a Sour Patch Kid for his 26th birthday! How cool is that?

The Man Loves Movies

movie man
Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images
Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images

Something else Kaepernick enjoys other than Sour Patch Kids is movies. He’s a collector of them, and has over 250! How he has so much time to enjoy these films is beyond us, but he does.

As for his favorites, they’re two classics, with one being a children’s film. That’s right, Kaepernick’s favorite films are Finding Nemo and Step Brothers. Many adults enjoy the latter, while the former is a kids go-to flick. That’s the best of both worlds.

Two Siblings

colin
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

While he might’ve been adopted, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have siblings. The quarterback is the youngest of three, a brother and a sister named Kyle and Devon.

These two are the biological children of Rick and Teres Kaepernick. Getting adopted must be something that only those who’ve experienced it knows what it feels like, but we can’t imagine that it’s an entirely great feeling. Having brothers and sisters around while he grew up might’ve made the situation better.

One Scholarship Offer

scholarship
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For as great of an athlete Kaepernick was, he didn’t get much love to play football at the college level. Thanks to stellar basketball performance, that’s how he earned his one scholarship offer to the University of Nevada.

Apparently, the coach Barry Sacks witness Kaepernick put on a Jordan like show in high school while carrying a 102-degree fever. Nevada worried that he might favor baseball, but he ended up signing with the football team two months after the offer.

Selling Out Fast

really fast
Prince Williams/Wireimage
Prince Williams/Wireimage

Kaepernick’s buzz was at an all-time high not too long ago around the time Nike released the campaign surrounding him. Not only did their products sell extremely well, but Kaepernick’s personal site did numbers as well.

Hours after Nike showcased the “Just Do It” ad, the quarterback’s custom jerseys with #IMWITHKAP written on them sold out on his website. That’s quite the turnaround for such a polarizing figure. It shows how many supporters he had.

Tattoo Love

tattoo
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Kaepernick is full of tattoos. He has sleeves on both of his arms and more over his body. Does he have a favorite? According to him, he does.

The quarterback’s favorite tattoo is one found on his bicep and it’s a popular phrase that many famous people like using. It says, “My gift is my curse.” Short and to the point, but it means a lot to the man of many principles.

Getting Called Out For Tattoos

looking up
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

When Kaepernick was the star of the 49ers, not only was he the quarterback, but he was the leader. A sportswriter wrote in 2012 that as the head of the team, he’s like the CEO, and “you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”

Those words sparked anger in other writers, including Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler. He said that it was “disgusting, an embarrassment to my profession.” To each his own.

Sending Pizza To Everyone

kaep
Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

As Kaepernick grew into superstardom, he quickly learned how to deal with the media along the way. While players and members of the media don’t usually get along, he wanted to fix that.

NFL.com‘s Albert Breer tweeted that Kaepernick “just had pizza sent over to the media trailer here in Santa Clara” before a Thursday team practice. That’s not something everyone does, but it is a helpful tactic for trying to bring peace with the press.

He Set Records At Nevada

records
Prince Williams/Wireimage
Prince Williams/Wireimage

While you already know Colin Kaepernick was a great college athlete at Nevada, it can also be argued he was elite. While there, he was the first player in NCAA history with 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in three consecutive seasons. With those numbers, you would think he would have been a top ten draft pick.

Because Kaepernick was viewed as a gadget player coming out of college he ended up falling to the second round. Thanks you to his success at the pro level, other “gadget” QBs like Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson became first-round sensations.

Kneeling Sold Jerseys

kneeling
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

As controversial as it was for Colin Kaepernick to kneel for the National Anthem, it arguably made him more popular with fans. After he began kneeling in 2016, his jersey shot to the top of the league’s sales charts. Of course, not every fan was happy with his actions.

For as many fans that fell in love with Kaep and what he was standing for, there was another faction that believed while his intentions were good, his execution was disrespectful. Despite this, his teammates and coaches stood behind him until he opted out of his contract when the season ended.

He Traveled To Ghana To Find Himself

smiling
Michael Tran/FilmMagic
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

In 2017 Kaepernick packed his bags and went on an exploratory trip to Ghana. Being of Ghanaian descent, Kaep said he went there to learn about his ancestor so that he could in turn learn about himself. He also planned the trip so he would be in Ghana during the 4th of July.

In a message posted to his Instagram Kaep wrote, “I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it lead me to Ghana. Upon finding out this information, I wanted to visit the sites responsible for myself.”

He’s Got Famous Admirers

looking sharp
Lester Cohen/WireImage
Lester Cohen/WireImage

In 2018 Colin Kaepernick learned he had a major supporter in one of the world’s greatest athletes – Serena Williams. The tennis legend showered him, and former teammate Eric Reid, with praise for their social work and how the “really use their platform in ways that is really unfathomable.”

Her words came almost two years to the day the Kaepernick first refused to stand for the National Anthem, showing the lasting impact his actions have had. As Kaep himself said it, “To me, this is bigger than football.”

It Took Three Games For Anyone To Notice His Protest

running
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Oddly enough, when Colin Kaepernick began protesting the National Anthem, he would sit on the bench and not kneel. His first game doing this was during the preseason, and no one noticed until two games later. After the third game, Kaep was asked about it and he explained his actions.

Interestingly enough, other athletes have sat for the National Anthem before without drawing a stir. The most famous of these was Marshawn Lynch, who was notoriously introverted when it came to press time and being on camera.

Tom Vs. Time

brady
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

A lot of smoke came from the comments Tom Brady made in the last installment of Tom Vs. Time. Out of that segment came a moment where Brady asked himself a simple question.

“What are we doing this for?” Brady said. He continued to elaborate about that statement in saying that you need to be able to have an answer to the question of whether to keep playing. Those remarks led to dozens on dozens wondering if Brady’s final year was upon us.

New Anthem Rules

kneeling players
Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Not that long ago, the NFL implemented a new rule regarding the National Anthem. Every NFL team owner unanimously agreed that players would have to stand during the National Anthem if they were on the field. The players could each choose to remain in the locker room if they like.

If anyone on the field were to violate this policy by kneeling or sitting, the team itself would be subjected to a fine. Then the team would have the option to fine any of the players or personnel involved.

Challenging The Policy

kneeling together
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It only took two weeks for the NFL Players Association to file a grievance that challenged the new policy. To have control over how the players act during the National Anthem seemed a little unfair to the players, so they wanted to do something about it.

“This new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights,” the Players Association said. They said the new policy gave the NFL power to indirectly punish protesting players.

A Severe Consequence

roger
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins were on a complete power trip after the NFL announced the new rule. They said they would give a four-game suspension to anybody who went against the policy. The season is only 16 games, so that’s a fourth of their playing gone.

People criticized this move tremendously. There were times when players broke the NFL’s domestic violence policy and received much less of a punishment. This made the NFL look very hypocritical.

A Standstill

the whole team
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The most significant change to the National Anthem policy was that there would no longer be a policy in place, for now. The NFLPA and NFL announced that were working endlessly to come up with a solution to this massive issue they have on their hands.

There would be no new rules surrounding the anthem issued or enforced until an agreement between the NFLPA and NFL was made. All of this was fantastic news for the players protesting.