Michael Thomas on why Colin Kaepernick should be back in NFL

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Peter King is on vacation until July 20, and he lined up some guest writers to fill his Monday spot on Football Morning in America. Today, it’s Michael Thomas, who plays safety for the Houston Texans.

Three months into the 2016 season—my friend Colin Kaepernick’s last in the NFL—the 49ers came to Miami for a game. The Niners were 1-9. We were 6-4 and headed for the playoffs. I entered the NFL on San Francisco’s practice squad in 2012; by 2016, I was in my fourth season playing safety for the Dolphins, and I took the field that afternoon in south Florida knowing our biggest priority on defense was to stop Kap.

In the last four years, Kap’s been blackballed from the NFL and has become an international hero for the oppressed. I’ll get to that subject in a moment, but I want to express what a great player he was when he last played, and why I believe he absolutely must have the chance to get his job in the NFL back. Now.

The pressure on Kap that hot afternoon was enormous. We had won five games in a row. Though he was a great player, he was getting a lot of attention for other reasons. Kap started protesting during the National Anthem that preseason, to draw attention to systemic racism and police brutality, first sitting during the anthem and later kneeling. Eric Reid joined him in San Francisco. It was not a popular stance with the public. Kenny Stills, a wide receiver on our team, and I joined in solidarity in Miami so during the anthem before that game, while I was kneeling, I could look across the field and see Kap doing the same.

That feeling was monumental. We were getting nothing from the league, no statement of support, no willingness to back the players. There was more tension that day, because Kap had previously worn a T-shirt with a photo of a meeting between Fidel Castro and Malcolm X. In south Florida, with such a large Cuban population, anything pro-Castro does not go over well. So that was a massive thing for the Miami media, and he had a heated discussion with a reporter from the Miami Herald during a mid-week press conference that got a lot of attention. That game had extra juice before we lined up on Sunday.

Kap played an incredible game. It might have been his last truly great game in the NFL. He threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and he had his last 100-yard rushing game in the league, with 113 yards on the ground. We were up 31-24 but they had first and goal at the six-yard line with five seconds left and Kap was looking to get them into the end zone, tie the game and send us to overtime. He got the snap and tried to run it in, and for a minute it looked like he was going to do it. But he got tackled by Ndamukong Suh and Kiko Alonso at the two-yard line, and that was the game.

We rushed the field, we were celebrating, and I remember being mad at myself afterwards because by the time we were done with all that, I’m pretty sure Kap was off the field, and we didn’t get to chop it up. Obviously, I was glad we won. When I’m playing against Kap, when I’m playing against anyone, I’m trying to make my plays and win the game as my absolute first priority. But at the same time, Kap’s my guy, and I want him to ball. And I was really happy that he balled, because there was absolutely nothing negative anyone could say about that game. We know the added pressure that came with us taking a knee. If you give them any excuse, they’ll tear you down and demand you get cut. You’re just a distraction.

That season was life-changing for me. Following the back-to-back unjust murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in the summer of 2016, I knew I had to do something. I was done with t-shirts and hashtags. I was ready to fight, because this was bigger than me. I had zero guarantees in my contract at the time. Miami could cut me at any point and not owe me a thing, not even owe me a goodbye.

I had to make a decision. My parents always raised me to be a leader, to take a stand for what was right regardless of potential punishment, but even they were scared. My wife Gloria and I prayed about it. Here’s what it came down to: If I say that I care about my people, if I say that I care about the Black community, I needed to do something. My daughter would be watching.

To be honest, I had no idea what exactly that something was going to be. Until I saw Colin Kaepernick kneel during the National Anthem. When I heard why he was protesting, that he was fighting against systemic oppression and police brutality, it was an incredible moment of clarity.

Kenny, who has conviction like no other, said to me, “Mike, that’s what we need to do.” Players across the league were having conversations about locking arms, raising fists, but we knew that would distract from the message and allow it to be co-opted. We had to kneel in solidarity with Kap, and we had to have that conviction to know that even if we were going to get bashed, we were in it with our brothers. In our hearts, we knew it was the right thing to do.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick woke me up.

I pray that we figure out a way to make this NFL season work safely amidst the coronavirus pandemic. I’m a vice president on the board of directors of the NFL Players Association, and we’re talking about that right now. If and when it does, I have no doubt that we’ll hear any number of statements and sentiments from the teams, from the league and from Roger Goodell about racial injustice, about Black Lives Matter, about making change. We’re already hearing them now. Great. It’s the middle of July. But I don’t think any player will really believe the sentiments of the NFL if Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job in the league this season.

When I initially spoke with Peter King about writing this column, he wanted to know if I might propose a creative solution to make that job happen for Kap. I said no. The NFL created this problem. The NFL has to solve it. It’s not my job to do that. If the league really feels like it’s going to back the players when it comes to ending racism, Colin should have a job. That’s the only way that the Black community and the players are going to truly believe the NFL is serious about what they say. Otherwise, people will always reference what you did to your own. You have to look in the mirror and clean your own house first.

Like I said, I’ve played against Colin, and he’s a winning quarterback. He wasn’t winning the last time we faced each other, but he’s proven he can compete, and he’s taken his team to the Super Bowl. People love to talk about how long Colin has been out the game, how hard it might be for him to get back to that NFL level. But I know he’s been working and staying in shape. That’s different than actually playing, and I don’t know if his first role when he comes back will be the starting quarterback for a team. But I know for a fact that of all the backup quarterbacks on a roster right now, he’d be one of the best, if not the best. And probably better than some of the second-tier starters.

Read more from Football Morning in America here.

Super Bowl 2023: What to know about national anthem, pregame performers ahead of Super Bowl LVII

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Super Bowl LVII is inching closer, and while we may not yet know which two teams will take the field, we do know which performers will take the stage.

The NFL revealed on Jan. 24 that Chris Stapleton, Babyface, Tony Kotsur, Sheryl Lee Ralph and others will take part in the Super Bowl pregame festivities, completing the list of entertainers that will perform in the southwest.

Super Bowl LVII will take place on Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. EST. See below for the full list of performers that will be present at the big game.

RELATED: Click here for more information about Super Bowl LVII

Who is singing the Super Bowl national anthem?

Chris Stapleton will be performing the national anthem at State Farm Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. The country music star is an 8x Grammy, 15x Country Music and 10x Academy of Country Music Award winner.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Stapleton spent years in Nashville as a songwriter before debuting his solo album, Traveller, in 2015. The album, best known for its No. 1 hit “Tennessee Whiskey”, propelled Stapleton to stardom, sweeping the Country Music Awards and eventually going platinum. Since then, Stapleton has released three other albums, the latest entitled Starting Over, which debuted in 2020.

RELATED: Ranking the most memorable Super Bowl national anthems of all time

Who else is performing during the Super Bowl pregame?

Babyface, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Tony Kotsur, among other performers, will take the field during the pregame ceremonies of Super Bowl LVII.

The 12-time Grammy-Award winner Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful” prior to kickoff. The 64-year-old recording artist, songwriter and producer has had 125 Top 10 hits, 44 No. 1 R&B hits and 16 No. 1 pop hits.

Emmy, Critics Choice and Independent Spirit award winning actress Ralph will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Ralph is best known for her role in the hit comedy series “Abbott Elementary”, a part which earned her the distinction of being both a 2023 Golden Globe nominee and Critics’ Choice Award winner. The 66-year old Connecticut native also won an Emmy for “Abbott Elementary” this past September.

RELATED: Who performed at the Super Bowl 2022?

Kotsur is also make an appearance in the Super Bowl pregame, performing the national anthem in American Sign Language on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf. The Arizona native has broken boundaries in the entertainment world, becoming the first deaf man to win an Academy Award for acting this past year. His part as the character of Frank Rossi in the movie “CODA” is what earned Kostur the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Joining Kostur at the Super Bowl is two other deaf performers, as Colin Denny will perform “America the Beautiful” in ASL and Justina Miles will sign “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as well as the halftime show in ASL.

Who is performing at halftime of Super Bowl 2023?

On February 12, 2023, Apple Music announced that singer and entrepreneur Rihanna will headline the inaugural Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show. The telecast will be produced by DPS with Roc Nation and Jesse Collins serving as executive producers, and Hamish Hamilton serving as director.

First entering the pop music scene in 2007 with her first album Music of the Sun, Rihanna has since dominated the industry, garnering 14 number-one Billboard songs from her eight albums. The Barbados native has sold over 200 million records and won eight Grammy awards. She has also proven to be a successful entrepreneur, launching her cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty in 2017 and clothing line Savage X Fenty in 2018.

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023

Check out ProFootballTalk for more on the 2023 NFL Playoffs as well as game previews, picks, recaps, news, rumors and more. 

How to watch San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles: Live stream info, start time for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game

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It’s the San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, January 29 as the two teams go head-to-head in the NFC Championship game. Kickoff time is at 3:00 p.m. ET. See below for additional information on how to watch Sunday’s game.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule – Bracket, game dates, times and TV networks for Conference Championships and more

San Francisco 49ers:

The San Francisco 49ers look to win their first Lombardi Trophy since the 1994 season and they could likely do it with third string QB Brock Purdy, who will become the fifth rookie quarterback in NFL history to start a conference championship game this Sunday. Purdy, who was the very last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, moved up the depth chart after Trey Lance sustained a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 and Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot in Week 13.

RELATED: 49ers Super Bowl history – When is the last time San Francisco made it to, won the Super Bowl?

The 49ers pulled off a 19-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in last weekend’s divisional round marking the team’s 12th straight win. Additionally, this will be the third time in 4 years that San Francisco has reached the NFC Championship game. Purdy finished 19-of-29 for 214 yards in the win. RB Christian McCaffrey had 16 touches for 57 yards while TE George Kittle had five catches for 95 yards.

RELATED: Brock Purdy, Jalen Hurts met in a 2019 college football classic

When was the last time 49ers made it to the Super Bowl?

The 49ers most recent Super Bowl appearance was in 2019 when they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-20.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs – What to know about SF QB Brock Purdy Ahead of NFC Championship game

Philadelphia Eagles:

The Philadelphia Eagles delivered a crushing 38-7 blow to the New York Giants last Saturday, clinching their first NFC Championship berth since 2017. QB Jalen Hurts, who has been nursing a right shoulder injury sustained in Week 15, finished 16-of-24 for 154 passing yards and two touchdowns in the win. After the game Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni compared Hurts’ impact to NBA legend Michael Jordan.

RELATED: Eagles Super Bowl history – When is the last time Philadelphia made it to, won the Super Bowl?

“To have him out there is like — I know this is high praise, but to have him out there is like having — I shouldn’t even go there — it’s like having Michael Jordan out there. He’s your leader. He’s your guy. Hopefully that’s the biggest respect I can pay to him comparing his ability to being on the field to a Michael Jordan type. This guy leads. He brings this calmness to the entire team. He plays great football. He’s as tough as they come. Yeah, I mean, to me, nobody has played any better football than him this year.”

The Eagles’ defense took care of business on Saturday with five sacks on Giants QB Daniel Jones improving to a total of 75 sacks in all regular and postseason games this season which is the third-most in NFL history.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs AFC, NFC Championship Round Schedule – Dates, start times, how to watch/live stream info for Sunday’s games

When was the last time the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl?

The Eagles last Super Bowl appearance was in 2017 when they defeated the New England Patriots 41-33.

How to watch San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles:

  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • When: Sunday, January 29
  • Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: Fox

What time is kickoff for the San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles game?

Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET.


Conference Championship Round Schedule:

Sunday, January 29

NFC Championship Game:

San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles – 3:00 p.m. ET on Fox

  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

AFC Championship Game:

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs – 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS

  • Where: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023: Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more