Colin Kaepernick has already divided America once in 2016, and he came under fire again for his actions - or lack thereof - on election day.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback sent American patriotism into overdrive when he knelt as the national anthem was played before a game to protest against racial inequality in the US.

Some backed up the 29-year-old, but others caned him for disrespecting the country that has given him the opportunity to make millions as a pro sportsman.

After taking a stand against racial injustice, Kaepernick surprised plenty by admitting he did not vote in the US election, won by Donald Trump.

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ESPN's Stephen A. Smith unleashed on the footballer for what he perceived to be a blatant display of hypocrisy. It was a spray worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.

"As far as I'm concerned Colin Kaepernick is absolutely irrelevant," Smith said. "I don't want to hear a damn word about anything that he has to say about our nation, the issues that we have, racial injustices, needing change, etc, etc.

"He comes across as a flaming hypocrite as far as I'm concerned. I'm not interested in a damn word that he has to say and quite frankly I hope he goes away. He's lucky to be in the league right now.

"And Colin Kaepernick, after all this noise that you've made, even though you didn't intend to do so by offending our military service men and women. And pointing out about how you wanted to bring attention to racial injustices and beyond that's in this country. To turn around and not to even take your behind to the polls to vote for a particular candidate - it is shameful. Absolutely shameful.

"Him of all people, because of the position he took, because of the attention he brought to the issues, the fact that he doesn't have the decency to go to the polls and activate yourself in this election is a damn shame.

"I don't want to hear another word from Colin Kaepernick. It's a waste of time. (As) a matter of fact, I would personally make a request to the media in this nation: Wherever he is, if he ain't on that football field trying to throw another damn incomplete pass, do me a favour and make sure of one thing - take the camera away from him.

"It means nothing. Because for him not to vote, as far as I'm concerned, everything he said meant absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. I don't want to hear another damn word from him. Nothing."

The 49er had his reasons, though, believing neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump were worthy of holding office.

"I've been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole," Kaepernick said. "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 colour."

Kaepernick wasn't alone in opting against heading to the polls, though. Only 53 per cent of the population - which stands at more than 320 million - actually voted on Wednesday (NZT).

While Smith was the most savage in his takedown of the football star, there were others who thought Kaepernick made a mistake by not voting.

Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News said the NFL player wasted the chance to mould young minds. He claimed those that idolised Kaepernick for his courageous protests learnt something they shouldn't have based on his non-appearance at the polls.

"They learnt that it's not important to vote for the president of the United States, that the election process is overrated," Samuel wrote.

While recognising he was well within his rights to skip his appointment with a ballot box, Samuel believed Kaepernick lost the chance to effect change in a society he so badly wants to transform.

"But the quarterback who has clamoured for so much change still missed an opportunity - if only a small one - to effect change.

"It was a watched vote, less for what it could have accomplished (Clinton won California somewhat comfortably) than for what it meant to the generation of youngsters who have mirrored his activist actions for the last few months.

"For many who mimic his national anthem protest, their greatest ability to effect change will come during these presidential election Novembers, when they do cast a vote.

"And it's a right that Colin Kaepernick declined to exercise, implicitly telling so many young Americans who believe in his message that voting isn't that important. He was very wrong."

Yahoo Sports' Jay Busbee took a far more diplomatic approach than Smith when it came to critiquing Kaepernick's decision.

"More to the point, individual votes can have a dramatic impact on down-ballot elections, from congresspeople to statewide initiatives to local officeholders. Declining to vote has a far more significant proportional impact on those than the presidential race," Busbee wrote.

"Certainly, Kaepernick isn't to blame for Trump's victory any more than he'd be to blame for Clinton's. But his decision not to vote in a historic election is a curious one, and based on the public profile he's sought to create for himself, well worthy of second-guessing."