San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sparked debate last season for kneeling during the national anthem, said he will no longer use this method of protest next season because he doesn't want to detract from the positive change he believes has been created, ESPN reported.
He said that the amount of national discussion on social inequality generated as a result of his actions had affirmed the message he was trying to deliver.
The shift in behavior comes after he sat during the national anthem in the 2016 preseason, but reverted to kneeling during 16 regular-season games.
Many of Kaepernick's teammates supported the quarterback during the controversy. At the end of the season, they awarded him with the Len Eshmont Award, which goes to the player who "best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont," an original member of the 1946 49ers team.
Kaepernick's actions in 2016 drew widespread criticism, evoking a fierce debate about First Amendment protection and paying homage to those who have sacrificed their lives fighting for American freedom.
After his recent announcement, some thought his protest was too short-lived.
Kaepernick will stand for anthem b/c he's seen positive change in America. What country is he living in?— mark (@mlnga) March 2, 2017
Sources also told ESPN that the quarterback will opt out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers and become a free agent next week.
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