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Colin Kaepernick’s jersey is going to the Smithsonian 05.22.17 at 11:26 am ET
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Colin Kaepernick's jersey will soon be displayed in the Smithsonian. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick’s jersey will soon be displayed in the Smithsonian. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick’s jersey may not appear on an NFL field again. But it will soon be displayed in the Smithsonian.

Thanks to a donation late last year from sociologist Harry Edwards, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. acquired the jersey Kaepernick wore in 2016 while he was protesting the national anthem. The museum’s curator of sports, Damion Thomas, told USA Today last week the piece of memorabilia will be showcased within the next one or two years.

Edwards, who organized the Olympic Project for Human Rights, explained why he thinks Kaepernick needs to be recognized in the museum as soon as possible.

“I said, ‘Don’t wait 50 years to try to get some memorabilia and so forth on Kaepernick,'” he said. “”‘Let me give you a game jersey, some shoes, a picture … And it should be put right there alongside Muhammad Ali. He’s this generation’s Ali.'”

Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem last season to protest police brutality in African American neighborhoods started a nationwide movement, with high school players joining as well. He remains a free agent, leading some to ask whether he’s been blackballed from the league due to his social activism. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said recently he was open to bringing Kaepernick aboard, but there hasn’t been any reported progress on contract negotiations.

Since speaking out about police violence, Kaepernick has involved himself in a litany of social projects. This offseason, he’s helped deliver food and water to famine-ravaged Somalia and brought his “Know Your Rights” camp to Chicago, in which more than 200 students attended workshops on financial literacy, college preparation and interacting with law enforcement.

The 29-year-old quarterback recently purchase an apartment in Manhattan, where he handed out free suits outside of a parole office earlier this month.

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It sure looks like Colin Kaepernick is blackballed from the NFL 05.11.17 at 2:19 pm ET
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Colin Kaepernick is still jobless. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick is still jobless. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job in the NFL. But the quarterback whom he replaced can. The blackball appears to be on.

The Cardinals signed Blaine Gabbert this week, despite his astounding lack of success at the professional level. The 2011 first-round pick went 1-4 through five weeks last season, throwing for five touchdowns and six interceptions while posting a measly 68.4 passer-rating. Kaepernick reclaimed his starting job Oct. 11, and though the 49ers didn’t fare any better while he was under center (1-10), they received much better play at the quarterback position. Kaepernick posted a 90.7 QB rating in 2016, more than 20 points north of Gabbert’s mark.

Gabbert, who flamed out with the Jaguars before arriving in San Francisco, has never won more than four games in a season as a starting quarterback. Kaepernick, meanwhile, led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and NFC championship game in 2013.

With the 37-year-old Carson Palmer entering the final year of his contract, the Cardinals must start thinking about finding a replacement –– especially given Palmer’s extensive injury history. While Kaepernick isn’t a traditional pocket passer, he’s the best remaining option on the market. But Arizona opted to sign perhaps the worst quarterback available instead.

Kaepernick isn’t a surefire starter at this stage in his career. Since 2014, he’s completed just 59.7 percent of his passes and posted an 85.9 QB rating. The 49ers have gone 11-24 in games he’s started.

But in a QB-starved league, where Mike Glennon and Josh McCown will compete for starting jobs this year, Kaepernick curiously doesn’t even appear to be on anybody’s radar. According to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News, no team has seriously pursued him. That contradicts an ESPN report from two months ago, which says Kaepernick is holding out for a starting job and $10 million per year. A quarterback can’t demand to start if teams won’t meet with him.

In his column, Kawakami dispels several disparaging rumors about Kaepernick that are floating around. For starters, Kawakami says Kaepernick is back up to his playing weight from 2013, debunking the silly notion that his vegan diet is the reason he’s unemployed.

On Monday, The MMQB’s Peter King reported some 49ers officials think Kaepernick wants to retire from football so he can pursue social justice work full-time. As proof, they cite his new residence in Manhattan and interest in charitable work –– such as when he donated 100 suits to a parole office in Queens. Kawakami pushes back against that, too, writing that Kaepernick continues to work out five days per week.

Whenever a negative story about Kaepernick arises –– his unreasonable contractual demands, emaciating vegan diet –– they come from anonymous league sources. It’s almost as if there’s a sweeping PR campaign across the NFL, with executives hellbent on sullying his reputation.

It’s understandable if teams don’t want to welcome the immense media scrutiny Kaepernick brings with him. But he was far from a distraction for the 49ers last season. In fact, his teammates voted him as the club’s most inspiring player. They’ve also expressed disbelief he remains unemployed.

Jay Cutler, another veteran quarterback with considerable baggage, recently accepted a job at Fox because he couldn’t find work in the NFL. But his story is different than Kaepernick’s. Cutler, who’s almost universally disliked, is coming off shoulder surgery. At 34 years old, it’s fair to wonder whether he can physically play anymore. Though Kaepernick, 29, went through a round of surgeries last year, he didn’t miss a single game due to injury in 2016.

He also finished the season on a high note, posting a 100.1 QB rating over the final four weeks.

But with each passing day, it seems increasingly unlikely Kaepernick will find work before training camp. Meanwhile, inferior quarterbacks keep getting signed, and anonymous league sources continue to badmouth him.

Kaepernick may not be blackballed, but it sure looks like it.

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NFL teams reportedly don’t want to sign Colin Kaepernick because of his vegan diet 03.31.17 at 1:01 pm ET
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Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers prior to the start of free agency. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick donated $1 million to community organizations last year. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

NFL teams continue to come up with reasons to explain Colin Kaepernick’s prolonged unemployment. The latest excuse is the wackiest of all.

According to CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, clubs are leery of bringing Kaepernick aboard because of his vegan diet. The quarterback’s weight was down at the beginning of last season, but he’s reportedly back to his full weight now. Given that information, it appears as if this is a convenient cover for organizations that may be concerned about being accused of collusion. Last offseason, a number of teams, including the Broncos, were reportedly looking into acquiring Kaepernick. But now, after he kneeled during the national anthem, the interest doesn’t appear to be there. It’s easy to connect the dots, especially considering Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman’s story from earlier this month that says 70 percent of NFL teams “genuinely hate” Kaepernick because of his protest.

Kaepernick is flawed as a quarterback. He only completed 59.2 percent of his passes in 2016 and went 1-10 in his starts. But he also played well down the stretch, posting a quarterback rating north of 100 over the final month of the season. If Kaepernick wasn’t a divisive figure, he likely would have found a job already.

As Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann notes, it would be difficult for Kaepernick to actually prove collusion against him occurred. He would have to produce hard evidence, either in the form of written communication –– such as an email or memo –– or admittance from a league official.

While it’s unlikely there’s a coordinated effort between multiple teams to keep Kaepernick from playing in the NFL, it seems as if he’s been blackballed to an extent. He played better last season than he did in 2015, but yet, teams that once pursued him are now backing off.

The story about Kaepernick’s veganism is the latest curious report about him to emerge from NFL circles. Last week, ESPN’s Dan Graziano said the former 49ers QB seeking $9 or $10 million per season, which would price him out of nearly every potential backup job. But a source told Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio the story is bogus.

It’s apparent teams are refusing to sign Kaepernick, because they don’t think he’s worth the backlash. Blaming his diet or contractual demands seem to be nothing more than cheap excuses.

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Sarah Palin takes shot at Colin Kaepernick for his Meals on Wheels donation 03.22.17 at 10:13 am ET
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Colin Kaepernick remains a lightning rod in NFL circles. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick remains a lightning rod in NFL circles. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump took a shot at Colin Kaepernick, proclaiming his Twitter wrath is dissuading teams from signing the former 49ers quarterback.

Now former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is following suit.

In an article posted on Palin’s official website, writer Mary Kate Knorr calls Kaepernick’s Meals on Wheels donation a “political stunt.” Kaepernick recently gave $50,000 to the program, which delivers food for seniors and faces significant cuts under Trump’s proposed budget.

On Facebook, Palin implied Kaepernick’s political activism is the reason he’s still a free agent. “And he wonders why he can’t find a job,” she wrote as a teaser to the piece.

There seems to be a lot of truth to Palin’s comments. According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, 70 percent of NFL teams “genuinely hate” Kaepernick, because of his decision to kneel during the national anthem last year to protest racial discrimination and police brutality. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month the quarterback will stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” this season.

While Kaepernick’s protest may be over, it’s clear he remains committed to social advocacy. Last week, he also donated $50,000 to help fly supplies to famine-ravaged Somalia.

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Colin Kaepernick appears to be blackballed from the NFL, and that’s shameful 03.21.17 at 2:20 pm ET
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Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers earlier this month. (Caylor Arnold/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers earlier this month. (Caylor Arnold/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick’s NFL career probably wouldn’t be in jeopardy if he was busted for a DUI last year. But since he kneeled during the national anthem to protest discrimination and police brutality, he might be ostracized from the league. There’s something gross about that.

The speculation surrounding the reasons for Kaepernick’s unemployment reached a fever pitch last week, when Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman quoted an anonymous AFC general manager who said 70 percent of NFL teams “genuinely hate him.” On Instagram Sunday, filmmaker Spike Lee posted a picture with Kaepernick, blaming his prolonged free agency on “subterfuge” and “skullduggery.” President Donald Trump, meanwhile, says he thinks his Twitter wrath is keeping the former 49ers quarterback sidelined.

“It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” he said Monday at a rally in Kentucky. “Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.”

Kaepernick’s proclivity for making outlandish statements hurts his cause. Shortly before Fidel Castro’s death last year, he praised some of the Cuban dictator’s domestic policies.

“One thing Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here even though we’re fully capable of doing that,” Kaepernick said, via the Miami Herald.

Those glowing remarks about the despot who hired firing squads to kill political rivals jive with the Castro t-shirt Kaepernick wore to a press conference last summer. A few days after that wardrobe blunder, pictures circulated of Kaepernick sporting socks that depict police officers as “pigs.”

Any club that signs Kaepernick would risk facing some public relations backlash, and the truth is, many NFL teams probably don’t think he’s worth it. Since 2014, he’s completed just 59.7 percent of his passes and posted an 85.9 QB rating. The 49ers have gone 11-24 in games he’s started.

But in a quarterback-starved league, it’s difficult to imagine Kaepernick isn’t good enough to compete for a starting job somewhere. After all, the Bears recently signed career backup Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract. Just four years ago, Kaepernick’s electrifying play-making ability led the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth. He showed small flashes of that towards the end of last season, recording an 101.1 QB rating over the final four weeks.

It’s disingenuous to paint Kaepernick solely in a negative light as well. He donated $1 million to community organizations last year and helped secure an airplane that will transport supplies to Somali famine victims. The quarterback matches his words with action.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Donald Trump rips Colin Kaepernick, takes credit for his unemployment; Gale Sayers battling dementia at 9:55 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Philadelphia vs. Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: LA Angels vs. Cincinnati, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Boston vs. NY Yankees, 6:35 p.m. (NESN, WEEI-AM 850)
World Baseball Classic: US vs. Japan, 9 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Ottawa at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN, WBZ-FM 98.5)
NHL: San Jose at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Chicago at Toronto, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: San Antonio at Minnesota, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Richmond at TCU, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Georgia Tech at Mississippi, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB: 

— During a rally in Louisville Monday night, Donald Trump switched gears from talking about urban communities to discussing controversial NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick.

“Our inner cities will find a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity,” Trump said. “Your San Francisco quarterback, I’m sure nobody ever heard of him.”

A relevant and smooth segue if I’ve ever heard one.

Trump then explained he was referencing an article he read about Kaepernick’s free agency. He said he believes NFL teams are afraid to sign Kaepernick because they don’t want Trump to send mean tweets to them.

“It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” he said. “Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.”

Trump also took a shot at Kaepernick’s reluctance to stand for the national anthem before games.

“I said if I remember that one I’m going to report it to the people of Kentucky,” Trump said. “They like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

The Bleacher Report article Trump was likely referencing mentions Kaepernick is in “NFL limbo” because he takes public political stances. It quotes an AFC general manager who said “… some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team.”

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Colin Kaepernick reportedly can’t get a job because NFL teams ‘genuinely hate him’ 03.17.17 at 3:50 pm ET
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The 49ers released Colin Kaepernick after the 2016 season. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

The 49ers released Colin Kaepernick after the 2016 season. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

NFL teams are so desperate for quarterbacks these days, the Bears signed backup signal-caller Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract. But Colin Kaepernick, despite leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl just four years ago, can’t find a job. Apparently, that’s because many league executives think he’s toxic.

According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, Kaepernick could remain a free agent for the bulk of the offseason. An unnamed AFC general manager told him 30 percent of teams either don’t think Kaepernick can play or are afraid of the backlash they would face after signing him. The GM says the other 70 percent just plain out despise him, presumably because of his decision to kneel during the national anthem last season to protest social inequality and police brutality.

“The rest genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on,” the anonymous executive said. “They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”

While Kaepernick is limited as a quarterback –– he only completed 59.2 percent of his passes last season –– he played well down the stretch for the moribund 49ers. Kaepernick posted a 101.1 QB rating over the final four weeks of 2016, throwing for six touchdowns and only one interception.

Earlier this month, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Kaepernick intends to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” next season. Given this report, it’s easy to surmise why he probably came to that decision. Kaepernick seems to be paying a price for speaking his mind.

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Colin Kaepernick ends his protest on disingenuous note 03.03.17 at 1:17 pm ET
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Colin Kaepernick says he plans to end his national anthem protest in 2017. (Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick says he plans to end his national anthem protest in 2017. (Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick said last year he would keep kneeling during the national anthem until significant progress was made toward social justice reform. But now, after opting out of his contract with the 49ers, he plans to stop his protest. This makes his apparent quest for change seem disingenuous.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday the former San Francisco quarterback will stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” in 2017. Kaepernick said he arrived at his decision because he doesn’t want his demonstration to distract from the positive impact he’s made on the issue of racial inequality. Apparently, he believes his work is done.

Kaepernick’s protest, which started in the preseason and continued through the entire regular season, was more than a symbolic gesture. His foundation gave $1 million to community organizations, with the 49ers matching his donations. He also organized and spoke at a camp for underprivileged kids in the Bay Area, setting up workshops that covered topics ranging from nutrition health to advice on how to interact with police officers. Kaepernick says he plans to continue those charitable endeavors, but without the accompanying public symbol.

While LeBron James and other NBA stars routinely speak out on social issues, Kaepernick’s protest sparked a national conversation. In addition to other NFL players, kids on high school and youth football teams across the country followed his lead. The Beaumont Bills, a Texas-based club comprised of 11- and 12-year olds, cancelled their season after some players decided to kneel to draw attention towards injustice. But now, without the safety net of a $14.3 million salary, Kaepernick is abandoning them.

With President Donald Trump in office, voices like Kaepernick’s are needed more than ever. Up to 8 million undocumented immigrants are now at risk of being deported under the administration’s new guidelines, including those who use food stamps and other social assistance programs. Trump is also promising to unveil a new travel ban that applies to several predominately Muslim countries, after the last one was overturned by a federal court.

The first hit to Kaepernick’s credibility as a social activist came shortly after Trump was elected to office, when he told reporters he sat out perhaps the most pivotal election in recent history. He made it clear last year he wasn’t a fan of Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, calling them “proven liars” and racists. It was a lazy take that did little to advance the national conversation.

“I’ve been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole,” Kaepernick explained when asked why he didn’t vote. “So, for me, it’s another face that’s going to be the face of that system of oppression. And to me, it didn’t really matter who went in there. The system still remains intact that oppresses people of color.”

While that’s true, the Trump administration poses an unique threat to civil rights. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose federal judgeship appointment in the 1980’s was opposed by Coretta Scott King due to his history of clamping down on voting access, said this week the Justice Department will pull back on police department civil rights suits. The Justice Department under President Barack Obama opened 25 probes into police departments, including Ferguson, Missouri, which was found to have targeted the African-American community in an effort to increase city revenue.

There were also several ballot measures in California that spoke to directly to the issue of criminal justice reform, which Kaepernick says he’s passionate about. Prop 63 tightened the state’s gun laws, and Prop 64 legalized legalized marijuana. That should be a topic of great importance to Kaepernick, considering the ACLU found black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. He spoke a lot about police practices, but did little to change them.

Kaepernick, of course, isn’t obligated to continue kneeling for the rest of his career. But given the nation’s current climate, this seems like a curious time to step aside. That is, unless Kaepernick is worried about hurting his value on the free agent market. With promises to curtail his protesting, he may become more attractive to teams that are leery of taking on a marginal quarterback with such a polarizing personality.

Muhammad Ali and other social justice crusaders weren’t afraid to suffer financially if it meant standing up for what they believe. It appears as if Kaepernick isn’t willing to make that kind of sacrifice.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Joe Theismann blasts 49ers for giving Colin Kaepernick courage award; Duke’s Grayson Allen returns from ‘indefinite suspension’ 01.05.17 at 9:05 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Edmonton at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Buffalo at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Oklahoma City at Houston, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: LA Lakers at Portland, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Davidson at George Washington, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Purdue at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: UConn at Memphis, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: California at UCLA, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Fairleigh Dickinson at Wagner, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Gonzaga at San Francisco, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Minnesota at Northwestern, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Utah at Arizona, 10 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: BYU at Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Tennessee-Martin at Belmont, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Richmond at VCU, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— NFL legend Joe Theismann criticized the 49ers on Tuesday for giving Colin Kaepernick the team’s Len Eshmont Award, which is given to the player who “best exemplified the inspirational and courageous play” of Eshmont. The recipient of the award is decided on by the players and was given to Kaepernick last week.

“You’re a 2-14 football team. He’s won one football game. What has he inspired?” Theismann said on Fox News’ Outnumbered.

Kaepernick started 11 of the 49ers 12 games this season. He threw for 2,241 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also notably kneeled during the national anthem before the games this season, sparking national debate.

Theismann also had an issue with Roger Goodell’s handling of the Kaepernick kneeling situation.

“I don’t agree with what he’s done,” Theismann said. “As a matter of fact, the American flag … stands for the right to be able to do the things you want to do, to be able to stand up and have a difference of opinion. I agree with that part of it, but not when you’re on the job. Everybody has the right to express their opinion, but not in the workplace.”

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Colin Kaepernick says he did not vote in election, ‘doesn’t care’ who won 11.10.16 at 8:17 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Columbus at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NFL: Cleveland at Baltimore, 8:25 p.m. (NFL Network)
NBA: Chicago at Miami, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: LA Lakers at Sacramento, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College football: Louisiana-Lafayette at Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: North Carolina at Duke, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Utah at Arizona State, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s friendly: Romania at United States, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS:
NBA:
Wizards 118, Celtics 93
NBA: Hornets 104, Jazz 98
NBA: Timberwolves 123, Magic 107
NBA: Raptors 112, Thunder 102
NBA: Rockets 101, Spurs 99
NBA: Warriors 116, Mavericks 95
NBA: Pacers 122, 76ers 115
NBA: Knicks 110, Nets 96
NBA: Hawks 115, Bulls 107
NBA: Suns 107, Pistons 100
NBA: Clippers 111, Trail Blazers 80
NHL: Blue Jackets 3, Ducks 2
NHL: Blackhawks 2, Blues 1
NHL: Senators 2, Sabres 1

AROUND THE WEB:

— Athletes were still responding Wednesday in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidential win.

Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested the national anthem before games by kneeling instead of standing, revealed on Tuesday he did not vote in the election and said Wednesday he doesn’t care who won because minorities are still being treated unfairly.

“To me, it didn’t really matter who went in there,” Kaepernick said. “The system still remains intact that oppresses people of color. And to me, it didn’t really matter who went in there, the system still remains intact that oppresses people of color.”

Trump went after Kaepernick in August for kneeling during the anthem, saying Kaepernick “should find a country that works better for him” if he doesn’t like the political climate in the United States.

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