Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have an NFL deal, but “Madden” video game players looking for a roster upgrade can now sign the free-agent quarterback.
EA Sports announced Tuesday that Kaepernick is available as a free agent in “Madden 21” and that it worked with him on his return to the platform.
Kaepernick rated as ‘starting-caliber’
“Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback,” an EA statement reads. “The team at EA SPORTS, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game.
“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. We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today.”
Kaepernick hasn’t been part of the franchise since “Madden 2017” was released in 2016, the last year he played in the NFL. Teams have refused to sign Kaepernick after his protests of social injustice and police brutality during the national anthem sparked controversy.
Kaepernick returns to ‘Madden’ amid shifting climate
Amid a shifting cultural climate in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that “we were wrong” in responding to player protests throughout the league and said the words “Black lives matter” in a mea culpa acknowledging the movement in the NFL that Kaepernick started.
Goodell didn’t mention Kaepernick by name that day. In an August interview with former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho, Goodell said, “I wish we had listened earlier” to Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, 32, remains a free agent and continues to express his desire and readiness to return to the league.
Kaepernick rated higher than most starters
EA is making its stance clear on Kaepernick’s return in rating him as a starting quarterback. According to The Undefeated, his 81 overall rating places him as the No. 15 quarterback in the game, higher than more than half the rostered starters and well above most of the 111 QBs in the game.
According to EA, the 81 rating reflects an anticipated decline from his time away from the league.
“Based on Kaepernick’s prior on-the-field performance, combined with our data-driven EA SPORTS ratings simulations, Kaepernick is an 81 OVR, which takes into account that he has not taken the field since 2016,” an EA statement reads. “When Kaepernick was a healthy starting quarterback he was rated 89, 89, 81 overall and known for his strong touchdown-to-interception ratio, mobility, and playoff performances.”
During his last season with the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his passes 186.8 yards per game while throwing 16 touchdowns and four interceptions across 12 games. He also rushed for 468 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
In the game, Kaepernick sports an Afro in his introduction and raises a Black power fist after a score.
EA addresses past soundtrack controversy
EA acknowledged a past Kaepernick controversy in the franchise in Tuesday’s statement. EA edited Kaepernick’s name out of rapper Big Sean’s verse on the song “Big Bank” on the soundtrack of “Madden 19.”
“Feed me to the wolves now I lead the pack and s---
You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick
At the time, EA acknowledged an “unfortunate mistake” it attributed to confusion over rights to Kaepernick’s name and likeness.
“We made an unfortunate mistake with our Madden NFL soundtrack,” EA Sports wrote in a 2018 statement. “Members of our team misunderstood the fact that while we don’t have rights to include Colin Kaepernick in the game, this doesn’t affect soundtracks. We messed up, and the edit should never have happened.”
On Tuesday, EA wrote that it worked through that mistake in its talks with Kaepernick.
“We’ve had a long relationship with Colin through ‘Madden NFL’ and worked through our past soundtrack mistake.”
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