Colin Kaepernick became much more than an NFL quarterback this year. He became a national symbol for some of the most tense moments in the history of the United States. His decision to kneel during national anthems prior to his team's games became a bigger conversation point than his play itself. Now, that decision may be a thing of his -- and the league's -- past.

Change in stance

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Kaepernick no longer plans on kneeling in protest during the National Anthem before NFL games. The reason given is that the quarterback doesn't want to take away from the efforts he has been pouring money and time into since he began his protest; he feels the negative attention may detract from the community work he has been doing on the ground.

The protest began during the 2016 NFL preseason, although it took several weeks for anyone to realize, due to the usual inattention paid to the national anthem by television audiences. After it began, however, people around the country commented on it. Several teammates and colleagues from around the NFL joined Kaepernick in his protest, though it did have its share of detractors, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Personal truth or personal convenience

The national anthem news broke around the same time as another piece of news: the decision by Kaepernick to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. He was the quarterback of a Super Bowl runner-up several years ago, but was forced to come off the bench behind Blaine Gabbert last season in San Francisco.

Nobody really knows where he may end up next season.

This allows for a cynical approach to his new national anthem stance -- maybe he's reversing course to appear more attractive to other teams. He will still have the baggage of his protest on his back, but it will no longer be an active deterrent in the eyes of some fans.

Could his decision have ramifications in terms of whether or not Kaepernick gets an opportunity to start next season? Only time will tell.

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