Bush, who himself is hopeful of joining an NFL team this season, appeared on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show in a clip released Thursday. When she asked him why Kaepernick was still a free agent, Bush replied, “Because he’s being blackballed. That’s the reason, 100 percent.
“He’s better than every backup quarterback in the NFL at this point right now, and better than some starting quarterbacks in the NFL,” continued the 32-year-old running back, who played with Kaepernick on the 49ers in 2015. “So he’s being blackballed by the NFL, which is unfortunate because now you see everybody taking a knee, so now he’s got to be feeling like, ‘Where was this at last year, when I was taking a knee?’ ”
A few other NFL players did emulate Kaepernick’s example last season when he protested racial injustice by kneeling during pregame renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Yet he has been made something of a martyr for the stance he took, given his inability to find employment since becoming a free agent in March.
Some observers have made the case that as a quarterback who relied on his running ability to make up for slightly subpar accuracy, at least by NFL standards, Kaepernick is a poor fit for many teams’ offenses and thus should not have been expected to find work. Others have scoffed at that suggestion, pointing to the 29-year-old quarterback’s statistics last season — which include 16 touchdown passes to four interceptions, and a 90.7 rating — and his success in previous years, including leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl in 2013.
“He’s ready to go,” Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, a college teammate of Kaepernick’s at the University of Nevada, said Thursday of the quarterback’s interest in returning to the NFL (via the AP). “He told me he’s been working out when I last talked to him. He said he’s just waiting for a call. That’s the next step.”
Marshall was one of the players who joined Kaepernick in kneeling last season, but he stood during the anthem for the first two games this year. A few other players continued to kneel, prompting strong criticism from President Trump, including use of the phrase “son of a bitch,” which led to mass demonstrations at NFL games over the weekend.
More than 200 players took a knee, including Marshall and more than 30 other Broncos. “Last year I did it all by myself for eight games, but it’s a lot different to have your brothers backing you,” the linebacker said. “I think whenever we decide to come together and do something, there’s strength in numbers, they say, right? So, I definitely think that makes us stronger.”
Marshall not only agreed with Bush’s assessment of Kaepernick’s unemployment, he went so far as to name a quarterback he felt undeserving of his starting job. “There’s a lot of [poor] quarterback play around the league,” Marshall said. “I’m not saying the Bears should sign him, but you know the player Mike Glennon is. You can’t tell me he’s better than Colin Kaepernick, and he’s a starter right now.”
As for Bush, he also said he was “waiting for the call” from the NFL, in comments last week to TMZ Sports. He added that his ideal situation would include “somewhere with a good quarterback.”
On Handler’s show, Bush referred to the fact that previous anthem protests had been aimed at racial injustice, in saying, “What I feel is this past Sunday was obviously directed at Trump, so the translation of the meaning of why we’re doing it got lost, because this was directed at Trump, showing him for one, you don’t control us, and the people have the power. At the end of the day, Americans make up that flag.”