Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Praises Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick while playing with the San Francisco 49ers / Getty Images
September 4, 2018

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the firebrand former president of Iran who questioned the Holocaust and said the U.S. government was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks, tweeted his support for ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Monday.

"The #NFL season will start this week, unfortunately once again @Kaepernick7 is not on a NFL roster," Ahmadinejad wrote on Twitter. "Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league. #ColinKaepernick #NFL."

Ahmadinejad's tweet came three days before the 2018 NFL season begins. Kaepernick—who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2016, his last year in the league—is currently a free agent after no team chose to sign him.

Kaepernick became a national figure and embroiled in controversy in 2016, when he chose to kneel, rather than stand, while the national anthem was played before the start of games. The move, which he described as a protest to draw attention to police brutality and other examples of racial injustice, became a league-wide controversy that made national headlines, especially after President Donald Trump criticized players who participated.

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that a majority of Americans believe it is inappropriate for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem.

Kaepernick is currently suing NFL owners, claiming they "have colluded to deprive [him] of employment rights in retaliation for [his] leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States."

Despite the controversy surrounding Kaepernick, Nike announced Monday a multi-year deal with the quarterback and released an ad featuring him as part of the company's "Just Do It" campaign.

Ahmadinejad, who served as president of Iran from 2005 to 2013, became notorious during his time in office for calling for Israel's destruction, denying the Holocaust, and ramping up Iran's nuclear program. He has also said that the United government, not al Qaeda, was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The State Department designated Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism throughout Ahmadinejad's presidency, and continues to do so today.