Colin Kaepernick is back on Madden.
EA Sports announced Tuesday that the former quarterback will be playable in this year’s edition of the popular video game for the first time since 2016, when he last played in the NFL. He will be the game’s top-rated free agent quarterback.
“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,” the announcement on EA Sports' website reads. “We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today.”
No NFL team has signed Kaepernick since he left the San Francisco 49ers after leading the team to the Super Bowl in 2016. During preseason that year, the football star began silent protests by kneeling during the national anthem.
Backlash from his protests — which started the #TakeAKnee Movement — led to Kaepernick leaving the 49ers a few months later in March 2017, and he has remained a free agent since.
In June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell formally apologized for ignoring players who kneeled during the national anthem and said he now welcomes Kaepernick's voice in the league as a social activist.
"Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's going to take a team to make that decision," Goodell explained to ESPN. "But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that."
Colin Kaepernick (right) kneels at an NFL game
In addition to the return of Kaepernick, Madden 21 will include players’ “signature” touchdown celebrations. Whenever Kaepernick has a big play or a touchdown in the game he “will raise his fist as a symbol of Black Power when you choose to celebrate with him, as he did during his last season,” the EA Sports announcement said.
In 2018, EA Sports was met with widespread criticism after they removed a Kaepernick reference in YG's "Big Bank" in the Madden 19 soundtrack where Big Sean delivered the line: "Feed me to the wolves, now I lead the pack and s--- / You boys all cap, I'm more Colin Kaepernick."
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The athlete and activist will narrate the limited series, Colin in Black & White
The Tuesday announcement addressed this past controversy, sharing that EA Sports and Kaepernick have “worked through our past soundtrack mistakes.”
To celebrate the quarterback’s return to the NFL video game, Madden 21 will be free to play from September 10 through September 13, “so that all fans have an opportunity to play with Kap,” the company said.