When Colin Kaepernick refused to participate in a pregame national anthem, the 49ers quarterback sparked a national controversy. In the immediate aftermath to Kaepernick’s public protest against police brutality and racial injustice, outraged fans burned his jersey.
Two weeks later, that same jersey is in high demand. According to the NFL, Kaepernick’s red 49ers jersey has become the No.1-selling jersey online.
The staggering rise in jersey sales is extraordinary considering Kaepernick lost the starting quarterback role to teammate Blaine Gabbert over Labor Day weekend. While Kaepernick’s future as a franchise-leading quarterback is now in doubt, his new role as a high-profiled athlete turned activist is not in question.
This has become apparent as fans and fellow celebrities choose to make a political statement by wearing Kaepernick’s jersey:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 6, 2016
Kaepernick’s rebound in the public eye is a reminder that sports fans can embrace activism.
But not everyone in the sports community is commending Kaepernick’s actions. Hall of Famer and former 49ers great Jerry Rice condemned Kaepernick on Twitter for “disrespecting the flag.” An anonymous NFL executive labeled him a “traitor.” And ex-Rangers coach John Tortorella recently promised to sit any players in the World Cup of Hockey if they fail to stand during the national anthem.
As Kaepernick continues to sit, and his jersey sales continue to rise, the San Francisco 49ers franchise faces some backlash. Over the weekend, the Santa Clara police union threatened to stop providing security at games in which Kaepernick makes public displays against the flag.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick has pledged to donate 100 percent of the sales "back into the communities," according to ESPN.