Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has signed with ESPN’s parent, The Walt Disney Co., to create content about his political activism, according to a news release Monday.
Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 while he was with the San Francisco 49ers, will pair with Black Lives Matter activist and former ESPN host Jemele Hill across multiple Disney platforms to create content exploring “the quest for equity.”
“The partnership will focus on telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice and the quest for equity, and will provide a new platform to showcase the work of Black and Brown directors and producers,” ESPN said in the news release.
Kaepernick’s projects with Hill — they are being dubbed “first look” by ESPN — will be available on Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar and The Undefeated, self-described as “the premier platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture.”
“Kaepernick will work closely with The Undefeated, which is expanding its portfolio across Disney, to develop stories from the perspective of Black and Brown communities,” ESPN said.
ESPN proudly announced the partnership Monday on Twitter.
ESPN Films to produce an exclusive docuseries on Kaepernick’s life as part of overall deal
Kaepernick will work closely with @TheUndefeated
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) July 6, 2020
Kaepernick, 32, who has not played in the NFL since opting out of his contract after the 2016 season, divided football fans with his refusal to stand for the country’s flag and national anthem that year.
That division has grown amid the nation’s current racial unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees initially resisted calls for players to kneel during the upcoming NFL season, but he since has joined a movement to bring anthem protests back to the league.
Brees explained his new position in a social media post aimed at President Donald Trump.
“To @realdonaldtrump. Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag,” Brees wrote on Instagram.
“It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities,” he added.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt lashed out at a fan and claimed that kneeling is not about disrespecting the country or its flag.
“[I]f you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening,” Watt wrote.
A) don’t speak for me
B) if you still think it’s about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening https://t.co/tnsEq5D9WC
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) June 13, 2020
Both Brees and Watt insisted the protests are not about the flag, but Kaepernick directly contradicted the messaging of the two players on Independence Day when he took to Twitter to describe the Fourth of July as a “celebration of white supremacy.”
“Black ppl have been dehumanized, brutalized, criminalized + terrorized by America for centuries, & are expected to join your commemoration of ‘independence’, while you enslaved our ancestors,” Kaepernick wrote over top a video that juxtaposes fireworks and pro-American imagery with pictures of lynchings and video of apparent police brutality,” he wrote.
“We reject your celebration of white supremacy & look forward to liberation for all,” Kaepernick added.
Black ppl have been dehumanized, brutalized, criminalized + terrorized by America for centuries, & are expected to join your commemoration of “independence”, while you enslaved our ancestors. We reject your celebration of white supremacy & look forward to liberation for all. ✊? pic.twitter.com/YCD2SYlgv4
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) July 4, 2020
Neither Brees nor Watt has responded to Kaepernick’s latest comments.
“Developing exceptional storytelling told through a wide array of voices is at the core of who we are at ESPN. Colin has had a singular path as both an athlete and an activist, and, as the nation continues to confront racism and social injustice, it feels particularly relevant to hear Colin’s voice on his evolution and motivations,” ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement Monday of signing Kaepernick to the content deal.
Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger also celebrated adding Kaepernick’s voice to the company.
“Colin’s experience gives him a unique perspective on the intersection of sports, culture and race, which will undoubtedly create compelling stories that will educate, enlighten and entertain, and we look forward to working with him on this important collaboration,” Iger said.
Kaepernick celebrated his potential ability to reach young people with his new content.
“I am excited to announce this historic partnership with Disney across all of its platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,” he said in a statement.
“I look forward to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.”
Hill, who often calls President Donald Trump a “racist” and a “white supremacist” on Twitter, said she was excited about the project.
I have always known Colin is on the right side of history and this is an opportunity to make sure history continues to always reflects that.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 6, 2020
“I have always known Colin is on the right side of history and this is an opportunity to make sure history continues to always reflects that,” she said in a tweet Monday.
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