Michael Thomas on why Colin Kaepernick should be back in NFL


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.

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!