Colin Kaepernick to serve as honorary captain during Michigan's spring game

It is unusual for a college team to invite an NFL player who did not play for the school to serve as an honorary captain.

Updated: March 31, 2022 - 10:11am

Former Super Bowl quarterback Colin Kapernick will serve as an honorary captain for a University of Michigan football game this weekend, despite having never played for the Wolverines. 

The school's football program announced the honorary appointment Wednesday on Twitter for an intra-squad scrimmage game Saturday known as the Maize and Blue Spring Game.

"Excited to share the field with our honorary captain for Saturday's Maize and Blue Spring Game, @Kapernick7" tweeted the school's football account on Wednesday.

Kapernick played in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers under coach Jim Harbaugh, who is now Michigan's head coach.

He led the team in 2012 to the Super Bowl but lost to the Baltimore Ravens.

In 2016, his decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games in a social justice protest, including what he considered overlooked police brutality, sparked a national debate. 

In 2017, after several seasons of up-and-down success, he became a free agent and has yet to be signed by a National Football League team, a situation he and others attribute to political reason.  

He filed a grievance in 2017 against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of collusion to keep him out of the league. However, he withdrew the grievance in 2019 after reaching a confidential settlement with the league.

Harbaugh, when asked in 2016 for a reaction to Kaepernick's kneeling, first said, "I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don't respect the motivation or the action."

He then said, "To clarify, I support Colin's motivation. It's his method of action that I take exception to."

Harbaugh's position then changed again over the course of the next year. He went on to write an op-ed for Time, in which he defended players' rights to exercise "their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust."

"Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or – most important – harming our own personal interests," he wrote.