San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knew that not standing for the national anthem would draw some criticism.
A couple former NFL quarterbacks weighed in. T.J. Yates, formerly of the Houston Texans and currently a free agent, retweeted a criticism of Kaepernick not standing for the anthem in Friday night’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, and followed it up with this tweet of his own:
Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster, a former teammate of Yates with the Texans, argued with Yates on Twitter after saying it was Kaepernick’s right to protest. Here’s part of the conversation:
Jeff Garcia, a former 49ers Pro Bowl quarterback, didn’t seem to like Kaepernick’s protest.
Longtime quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is currently an analyst on ESPN, seemed to focus on how Kaepernick might have hurt his standing within the 49ers organization as he tries to win a starting job. Kaepernick, who missed most of the offseason recovering from surgeries, didn’t play in the first two preseason games either. He’s fighting Blaine Gabbert for a starting spot.
Kaepernick said he didn’t stand during the national anthem as a protest against the civil unrest across the country.
“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 told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche after the game against Green Bay.
Dan Graziano of ESPN said Kaepernick has chosen to not stand during the anthem in each of the 49ers’ preseason games. The NFL said that players are “encouraged but not required” to stand during the anthem. The 49ers put out a statement of their own.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team said, via NFL.com. “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.”
It’s a story that’s going to draw strong feelings on both sides. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets was involved in a huge controversy in 1996 over his decision to not stand for the national anthem. Kaepernick’s situation will likely follow suit.
Kaepernick said he knew there would be a reaction to his protest. The backlash, and the support, have already started.
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