In Friday night’s postgame press conference following the San Francisco 49ers’ preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked like a man who was ready to talk. At the time, I figured it was about football and those are the questions he was asked. Little did I, or presumably any of the reporters in the room know, that he probably was waiting to talk about something else. A little over an hour later, Pro Football Talk broke the news that Kaepernick did not stand up during the pregame National Anthem.
Kap told NFL Media after the game:
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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…If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.
For anyone who follows Kaepernick on social media, this was a long time coming. The embattled quarterback has been vocal in his concern over racial issues and police brutality in this country. Friday night, he went beyond Twitter and decided to sit to take a stand.
America is the home of the brave and of the free, and one of the things that makes this country great, is that people like Kaepernick can exercise the right not to stand for the National Anthem. He has the right to do what he thinks is right, just as those who disagree with him have the right to say so. It would be great if there was more discussion and less spewed hatred, but unfortunately, that’s not where we live.
I completely understand those who feel disrespected by his actions, but for me, I am in Kap’s corner. Was there a better way to handle this and speak out? Probably. Maybe. But at least he did something. Too few of us read the news, shake our heads, and go on with our lives. Here’s a man trying to win his job back, somewhat embattled with his team and front office, and somewhat polarizing on a good day. That man said, I have to do something in the best way I know how. He had to know the consequences, and he did it anyway. I respect that.
Yes, this country afforded him the opportunity to play football and to get paid handsomely for it; but in our country, innocent people are sometimes beaten and killed with what seems like little consequence, and that is not right. So I imagine, for Kaepernick, the potential loss of endorsements doesn’t seem that big a deal. This issue is not a simple one. It has many sides and many opinions but it’s a lot bigger than football, and Kap knows it.