San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick understood his national anthem protest would draw some attention and criticism. So even after Kaepernick became the hot-button story in the sports world over the weekend, he said he’s not going back on what he thinks is right.
Kaepernick will continue to sit during the national anthem, he told 49ers reporters on Sunday.
— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) August 28, 2016
Chris Biderman, who covers the team for The Niners Wire, a part of the USA Today network, reported that Kaepernick addressed the team. While not all of his teammates agree with him sitting during the national anthem, they support his right to do so.
“The support I’ve gotten from my teammates has been great,” Kaepernick said, via Biderman.
Kaepernick said his protest is not intended to slight the military.
“I have great respect for men and women that have fought for this country.,” Kaepernick said, according to a full transcript of his group interview from Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. “I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. They fight for freedom. They fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice for everyone. And that’s not happening.
“People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. It’s something that’s not happening.”
He said after the 49ers’ preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday night, when his protest became public knowledge, that he was not “going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick reiterated that on Sunday. He also said one specific thing he’s standing up against is police brutality.
“There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable, make those standards higher,” Kaepernick said, according to Kawakami’s transcript. “You have people that practice law and our lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist.
“That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”
The other side of the Kaepernick story is that he seemingly fell out of favor with the 49ers a while ago, long before he didn’t stand for the national anthem. Kaepernick missed most of the offseason and the first two preseason games due to injuries. At halftime of Fox’s telecast of the Houston Texans-Arizona Cardinals preseason game, reporter Jay Glazer said Kaepernick has a “very, very big uphill battle to make this team,” and it has nothing to do with his protest.
“I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends. It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever … he just hasn’t been effective,” Glazer said on Fox. æHe’s regressing as a player. I’d be shocked if he’s on this roster by the end of the year. He may not even be on it in the next two weeks.”
Kaepernick’s protest has drawn criticism, even from some former and current NFL players. New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz said he didn’t agree with Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem.
“I think, personally, the flag is the flag. Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things like that,” Cruz said, according to USA Today. “You’ve got to respect the flag and stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion.”
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Now that Kaepernick’s protest has become a big story and he promised to continue doing it, all eyes will be on him before each 49ers game. The 49ers and NFL put out statements that said any player has the right to not stand for the national anthem before the game. Kaepernick said there was no pressure from the NFL or 49ers to stop his protest.
“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick said, via Biderman. “To me this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
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