Colin Kaepernick is making his comeback to football, but is doing it virtually. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback will be featured in EA Sports’ Madden ‘21 video game for the first time since 2016.
Gamers of the popular title will be able to use Kaepernick in Madden 21 immediately, the company says.
“Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback," the company said in a statement. "The team at EA SPORTS, along with millions of ‘Madden NFL’ fans, want to see him back in our game. We’ve had a long relationship with Colin through ‘Madden NFL’ and worked through our past soundtrack mistakes.
“Knowing that our EA Sports experiences are platforms for players to create, we want to make ‘Madden NFL’ a place that reflects Colin’s position and talent, rates him as a starting QB, and empowers our fans to express their hopes for the future of football," EA continued. "We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today.”
Kaepernick can be played in the game’s franchise mode and signed to any team.
The former NFL star, who had played in one Super Bowl, hasn’t played since 2016 after kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. He opted out of his contract at the end of the season and has remained a free agent since.
In June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN he would support and encourage an NFL team interested in signing Kaepernick.
"If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's going to take a team to make that decision," said the commissioner. "But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that."
Goodell also said that he wishes he and the NFL “should have listened sooner [to Kaepernick]. And that's where we should have been in there with them, understanding and figuring out what we can do as the NFL."
In August, Goodell spoke to former NFL star Emmanuel Acho in his video series, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” added that he owed Kaepernick an apology.
"We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue," Goodell said. "I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did. And we would've benefited from that, absolutely."
"These are not people who are unpatriotic. They're not disloyal. They're not against our military," Goodell added. "In fact, many of those guys were in the military, and they're a military family. And what they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. And that misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me."