On Friday night, the San Francisco 49ers met the Green Bay Packers in a preseason football game. As is customary, the national anthem was played before the game. Many people feel that it is also customary for everyone to stand while the anthem is sung. This was the case on Friday night… except for one very conspicuous person. Down on the 49ers sideline, quarterback Colin Kaepernick stayed in his seat.
The thing is, he’s been doing this all during the pre-season. NFL Network reporter Mike Garafalo Tweeted:
He's actually done it all preseason. No one noticed. First time in uniform was last night. https://t.co/rkNrPgHZrz
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 27, 2016
But it was certainly noticed on Friday night. Kaepernick told NFL Media reporter Steve Wyche after the game that he fully expected to catch flack for his act:
“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… This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
You have to give the man props. He knew what he was doing and is prepared for the reaction. Following in the sports shoes of figures like Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Kaepernick invoked his First Amendment right to protest. He also frequently uses Twitter as a platform for speaking out for civil rights and Black Lives Matter.
Jennifer Chan, a reporter for Niner’s Nation, caught a picture of the 49ers sideline during the anthem. You can see Kaepernick sitting between the orange coolers:
— Jennifer Chan (@jenniferleechan) August 27, 2016
The NFL, while not happy with the situation, admitted that standing for the anthem is not a requirement. They actually did the right thing by saying in a press release:
“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.”
Kaepernick said that he is ready for the backlash. Well, Twitter had some for him and it was venomous. It’s perfectly fine for one of their own to do it but, god forbid that someone do the same thing in support of something “different.”
This is just a sampling of the vitriol aimed at Kaepernick on Twitter:
Blatant disrespect doesn't work well for impacting change. Feel free to find a country that supports you better. #Colin Kaepernick
— Paul Hoffman (@papac00772) August 27, 2016
— Patrick Henrys Ghost (@Pissed_Pat) August 27, 2016
Better yet, #Colin_Kaepernick, retire from the NFL, enter a police academy, then show us all how it's supposed to be done. For $50K per yr.
— FrantzRadio (@FrantzRadio) August 27, 2016
Does #Colin_Kaepernick know he's welcome to forfeit his rather generous contract and move to a nation he feels more love?
— Aaron Heinzmann (@kcaaronh) August 27, 2016
https://t.co/68WCTWCH9d He reinforces phrase, "dumb jock". He has no "right" to do this while working for a private business.
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) August 27, 2016
Colin Kaepernick is an over rated, overpaid, over inflated egotistical loser! Does he not realize AMERICANS pay his salary! Show respect!
— Michelle (@chrgdup1973) August 27, 2016
Colin Kaepernick needs to shut his bitch ass up
— AzPap (@AzGalica) August 28, 2016
One fan went mental:
Fan burns Kaepernick jersey https://t.co/WEo8thKZS6
— Pissed Clevelander (@POLITICAL_Jeff) August 27, 2016
But he did have supporters, people who actually understand the meaning of freedom.
If your response to Colin #Kaepernick is "leave the country" because you don't agree with him, you have no idea what "freedom" means.
— Greg Benson (@Gregulator614) August 27, 2016
If Colin #Kaepernick doesn't want to observe the national anthem, he doesn't have to. That's the beauty of liberty: no coercion/force.
— Drew Allen (@drewallennews) August 27, 2016
Colin Kaepernick sat to protest and injustice those who want him to get up and leave are no different than those that were mad at Rosa Parks
— LiberalValuesNetwork (@lordxmen2k) August 27, 2016
If only Those Pissed off at Colin Kaepernick sitting during anthem were as angry about hy hes doing it we might get somewhere.
— Keith M. (@ksecus) August 28, 2016
All the hate you see towards Colin Kaepernick is summarized in one word: Jingoism. People conclude his action as… https://t.co/HSNbtnXCrN
— A.R. Chao (@AbdulRahmanChao) August 28, 2016
And my personal favorite:
IRONY: People in hats claiming America is not, in fact, currently great – furious that Colin #Kaepernick apparently agrees with them.
— Born2Rezist (@Born2Rezist) August 27, 2016
The people who are attacking Colin Kaepernick display an astonishing lack of understanding. They say he should respect his country, respect those who fought and died for it but they don’t get it. He is. He’s calling attention to a problem with race that the country has struggled with for centuries and he’s doing so by exercising his First Amendment right. The people who fought for our country did so in defense of that right. Not just for those who agree with you, but for all Americans. It’s just mind-blowing that some don’t understand that.
Featured Image by Jennifer Lee Chan via Twitter