Prior to kick off of the Green Bay vs. San Francisco preseason game Friday evening in Santa Clara, Calif., 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem for the third straight week in a protest of social injustice in the U.S., choosing instead to sit on the bench while opera artist Chris Pucci sang the “Star Spangled Banner”.
The first two incidents went unnoticed by the media apparently because Kaepernick was not dressed for either game, appearing on the sidelines in street clothes. Friday’s show of disapproval was less conspicuous, as San Francisco’s backup was slated to play the second quarter in an attempt to win back the starting job he had lost during the 2015 season.
Kaepernick was interviewed by NFL.com following San Francisco’s 21-10 loss, and explained his reasons for not honoring the American flag during the pregame ceremony.
“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, who is of mixed racial heritage. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies on the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The media response to Kaepernick’s actions and words started Saturday and continued into Monday, with A majority of former teammates and fellow NFL players, coaches and seemingly anyone with a Twitter account expressing disapproval.
Asked about the situation on a Seattle conservative talk radio show interview Monday afternoon, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Kaepernick’s stand is “a terrible thing,” and called on the 28-year old son of adoptive white parents to “find a country that works better for him.”
Former teammate Alex Boone, an offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings, said Kaepernick “should have some fucking respect for people who served,” including Boone’s brother who was a member of the U.S. Marine Corp.
— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) August 29, 2016
Others, like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman supported the former Super Bowl quarterback for doing what he thought was right.
“I think he could have picked a better platform and a better way to do it, but everyday they say athletes are so robotic and do everything by the book,” Sherman said. “And then when somebody takes a stand like that, he gets his head chopped off.”
Addressing reporters on Sunday, Kaepernick said he will continue to sit-down during the national anthem until “there’s a significant change” to America’s oppressive inner-city law enforcement tactics.
“When there’s significant change — and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to — I’ll stand,” he said. “This country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”
49ers head coach Chip Kelly has said the team’s staff is still undecided weather Kaepernick will make the final roster cut this year, but NFL insiders insist that the decision will be solely based on his on-the-field performance.
Watch Kaepernick’s comments to the media on Sunday below:
[NFL.com] [The Guardian] [USA Today] [SportHub] [Photo courtesy Sporting News]