NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is known for many things. For starters, there’s the fact that he led the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII less than two years after being drafted by the club. And then there’s the fallout from his refusal to stand for the national anthem in 2016 as a form of protest against racial injustice. In doing so, Kaepernick ignited a movement, but it might have cost him his career. Among automobile enthusiasts, meanwhile, Kaepernick is known for something else: his endorsement of the stunning Jaguar F-TYPE. Here’s a closer look at the controversial quarterback and his favorite car.
Colin Rand Kaepernick was born on November 3, 1987 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His biological mother was just 19 when he was born, and gave him up for adoption to a couple she’d met through mutual friends, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick.
Growing up with white parents wasn’t always easy for the bi-racial Kaepernick, and his classmates sometimes teased him. Said his mother of dealing with the situation, “We’ve always been really open about the adoption, and we were always very open about the skin colors. We pointed it out as a positive, and he saw his difference and was comfortable with it.”
Kaepernick began playing football at the age of eight after his family relocated to California. Because of his strong arm, he was quickly tapped as a quarterback. While Kaepernick was also a star on the pitcher’s mound in baseball, football had his heart. In fact, he had his sights set on the NFL when he was still in elementary school. “I hope I got to a good college in football then go to the pros and play on the Niners or the Packers, even if they aren’t good in seven years,” he wrote in fourth grade.
While Kaepernick’s high school football accomplishments included first-team All-District, All-Conference and All-Academic selections, he was turned down by the best college football programs due to his less-than-ideal throwing form and scrawny build. He was eventually offered a spot — and a scholarship — after participating in a tryout camp at the University of Nevada. There, Kaepernick started out as safety, but took on the position of quarterback early in his first season after the starter was injured. Kaepernick threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns in that game, and the rest is football history.
After wrapping up his collegiate career with multiple school records, Kaepernick was picked by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2011 draft. A year later he took on the role of starting quarterback when longtime starter Alex Smith was injured, and was soon delighting and dazzling fans with his extraordinary athleticism. Despite pushback from critics who thought Smith should be reinstated to the top spot, Kaepernick soon won over the naysayers. He went on to lead the 49ers to an NFC championship win over the Atlanta Falcons before losing to the Baltimore Ravens at Super Bowl XLVII.
While Kaepernick had more standout moments with the 49ers, he also had his share of setbacks, including losing the starting spot and being sidelined with a shoulder injury. He finished out 2015 with an unfilled request to be traded to another team.
The following year, Kaepernick found himself in the spotlight for another reason: refusing to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” He added that he would continue to sit during the national anthem until seeing ‘significant change’ for minorities,” he said at the time.
Kaepernick continued the protest throughout the season, after which he became a free agent. When he wasn’t picked up in 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL owners asserting that they’d colluded against hiring him in retaliation for his behavior during the previous season. The legal battle concluded in 2019, when the parties agreed on a confidential settlement.
While Kaepernick’s activism was condemned by some, it was celebrated by others. He was designated as “Citizen of the Year” by GQ and was also honored at the ACLU of Southern California’s annual Bill of Rights dinner and with Sports Illustrated’s Muhammed Ali Legacy Award. Additionally, Kaepernick was a finalist for TIME’s “Person’s of the Year.” In 2018, he became the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
Nike was not Kaepernick’s first endorsement gig, however. Another memorable marketing moment for the tattooed athlete was in 2014 when he was signed to an endorsement deal with Jaguar for its new soft-top convertible designed to appeal to “alpha-male go-getters,” the Jaguar F-TYPE. Said Jaguar-Land Rover North America communications manager Joe Torpey of Kaepernick’s selection, “He’s new on the scene, similar to the F-TYPE. People have a lot of questions about him. They want to learn more about him.”
Kaepernick made a huge splash when he appeared at Deadspin’s elaborate kickoff party for the car. While Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong and Ben Kingsley made appearances in a much-hyped commercial, Kaepernick showed up in the flesh — and behind the wheel of a silver F-TYPE coupe featuring a remarkable 550-horsepower engine and a top speed of 186 MPH.
Said Kaepernick of piloting the vehicle, “The F-TYPE coupe is amazing — the handling, the speed, everything about it. You look at the car and it just screams out that it wants to be driven. That’s what kind of car it is.”
Six years later, the 2020 Jaguar F-TYPE is still turning heads for its stunning interior, ear-catching exhaust note, and appealing powertrain choices. Car and Driver recently raved, “The Jaguar F-type is a quintessential sports car, with a head-turning design and high-octane performance.”
Another F-TYPE selling point noted by Kaepernick? Drivers can turn the car’s muffler up or down depending on their preference. “So if you want to draw a little attention and cause a little ruckus, you can let everyone know you’re coming down the street,” he said.
We can think of no one who knows better about “caus[ing] a little ruckus” — and is therefore more suited for the Jaguar F-TYPE — than Colin Kaepernick.