Colin Kaepernick was joined by some elite company while serving as honorary captain at Michigan football's Maize and Blue spring game this weekend.
The quarterback, 34, threw several reps with undrafted receivers during halftime of Saturday's game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor in front of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh — who previously coached Kaepernick during their shared time with the San Francisco 49ers — NFL scouts, and director Spike Lee, according to ESPN.
Lee, 65, is currently filming a documentary for ESPN Films detailing Kaepernick's attempts to return to the NFL, Variety reported in February.
After completing his final pass of the throwing event, sponsored by Wolverines Against Racism, Kaepernick and Harbaugh, 58, dapped up while exchanging a few words. The moment was captured by the Big Ten Network, which aired the event live on Saturday.
When asked if he could still play NFL football in an interview with Detroit station WXYZ, Kaepernick didn't hesitate to say, "Absolutely."
"We still get out there and sling it," Kaepernick said. "Really, getting out here for the exhibition was to be able to show that I can do that. It's one of the questions my agent keeps getting was, 'Well it's been five years, can he still play?' So we want to make sure we can come out, we show everyone I can still play [and] still throw it."
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Now, Kaepernick is "really just looking for an opportunity for a door to open" in order to find a "pathway" back to the NFL as quarterback for one of the league's 32 teams. His goal, he noted, "is to lead a team to a championship."
Earlier in the day, Kaepernick thanked Harbaugh on Twitter for inviting him to take part in the annual event, which allowed him the opportunity to participate in the throwing exhibition and serve as honorary captain.
"Coach Harbaugh, he's always been phenomenal for me. From the time we met at the [NFL] Combine, my pro day, to him drafting me and choosing to start me ... from there, our relationship's continued to grow and develop. So [he's a] phenomenal person. Phenomenal man. Lot a love for Coach Harbaugh," he told WXYZ.
Kaepernick later added, "[Harbaugh] is someone that, he's going to fight for you. And his relationship with you goes beyond just football. He loves you as a person. So my relationship, I've maintained with him, his dad Jack and his family. It's phenomenal to reconnect with him in person after the pandemic and a few years apart."
I spoke with Colin Kaepernick on the sideline after his throwing exhibition at Michigan.
He said he can absolutely still play in the NFL. I asked what is your message to NFL teams: "I can help make you a better team. I can help you win games." pic.twitter.com/rUQTG562D7
— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) April 2, 2022
Kaepernick first linked up with Harbaugh in 2011, when he was selected by the 49ers with the 36th overall pick in the NFL Draft. The quarterback served as backup to retired NFL star Alex Smith during his first year-and-a-half in the league before stepping in as started after Smith, now 37, suffered a concussion in Week 10 of the 2012 season.
The civil rights activist has not played in an NFL game since 2017 after he chose to kneel during the National Anthem at the start of each game in protest over racial injustice, police brutality, and systemic oppression during the 2016 season.
Following his protests, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, he has not been signed by any NFL team.
Kaepernick and fellow athlete and protester Eric Reid filed grievances with the league in October 2017, accusing owners of colluding to prevent him from signing with a team. The pair settled with the league in February 2019.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Colin Kaepernick
In the years since, Kaepernick has kept up with his training, repeatedly noting on social media that he wants to and is ready to play should he be recruited by an NFL team.
In March, Kaepernick's trainer David Robinson told TMZ that "at least" five NFL teams have reached out to the quarterback following a training session held earlier in the month.
"A few teams have ... asked how his arm looked," Robinson claimed at the time. "They have reached out and asked about him."