He's making a statement
This was supposed to be a quiet off-season for Colin Kaepernick. The 28-year-old quarterback hasn’t been himself the last few years but a new coach and a QB friendly system in San Francisco offered hope for the once promising young passer.
But now, Kaepernick is the source of some very different attention after sitting down while the national anthem played before his team’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said in an interview with NFL Media afterward. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Reaction to his gesture, and especially his comments afterward, have been swift. The NFL released a statement that neither praised nor condemned him, but stood by the right of players to make their own decisions about partaking in national anthem ceremonies:
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Of course, a number of football fans disagreed with the move. One video showing a “lifelong 49ers fan” burning Kaepernick’s jersey while playing the national anthem has already been viewed nearly 10 million times.
Others have criticized Kaepernick, saying his multimillion dollar salary and celebrity athlete status shield him from the injustices many other minorities suffer. While others said his gesture is an insult to the men and women who serve in America’s military. His teammates also held a closed meeting in which those agreeing with and disagreeing with is decision hashed out their differences and came out “unified” as teammates respecting each other’s political and personal beliefs.
For his part, Kaepernick went out of his way to issue a second statement offering support for members of military while simultaneously saying he will continue to sit through the anthem until, “I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to.”