Supporters of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality against black people, showed their solidarity with him and his cause at a rally outside NFL headquarters Wednesday, demanding that he be signed by the start of the regular season next month. More than 1,000 people, many wearing jerseys bearing Kaepernick’s name, crowded the steps outside the NFL’s midtown Manhattan offices.

Kaepernick, who once took the 49ers to the Super Bowl, opted out of his contract with the team in March and remains unsigned. Supporters say he is being blackballed for his advocacy, but some critics say he should not have sat or kneeled during the anthem or contend his lack of a job is more about his on-field talent. Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 3-16 record the past two seasons.

Earlier Wednesday, the NAACP called for a meeting with the NFL to discuss the fate of Kaepernick, who was born to a white woman and a black man but was adopted by a white couple. The civil rights organization’s interim president, Derrick Johnson, said in a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that it’s apparently “no sheer coincidence” that Kaepernick isn’t on a roster.

Goodell has said the league isn’t blackballing Kaepernick. Some other players followed Kaepernick’s actions last season, and some are doing so in this year’s preseason. On Monday, a group of Cleveland Browns players prayed in silent protest during the national anthem. Among those kneeling was a white player, Seth DeValve. Another white player, Britton Colquitt, did not kneel but kept his hand on the shoulder of a teammate who did.

That protest earned the ire of an Ohio Supreme Court justice, the lone Democrat holding an Ohio statewide office. Justice Bill O’Neill wrote on Facebook that he wouldn’t attend any games at which “draft dodging millionaire athletes disrespect the veterans who earned them the right to be on that field. Shame on you all,” he said.

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