Two days after sparking a national conversation in the wake of his decision to sit during the pre-game performance of the national anthem Friday night, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick isn’t changing his tune.
Addressing reporters from his locker at the team’s training facility for nearly 20 minutes Sunday, Kaepernick, who’s sat during The Star Spangled Banner for each of the Niners’ preseason games so far, said: “I’ll continue to sit. … I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change, and 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.”
Kaepernick said it took time for him to decide how to express himself, but he’s comfortable with his tack — even if it costs him endorsements or his roster spot — as he attempts to shine yet another light on police brutality, specifically, and race relations.
“There are a lot things that are going on that are unjust,” he said. “People aren’t being held accountable for. And that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that this country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”
The sixth-year player has been praised for his actions in some quarters and vilified in many others, with some fans even burning his jersey. He’s prepared for further backlash from fans, especially on the road.
“At the end of the day, if something happens, that’s only proving my point,” he said.
Kaepernick told NFL Network on Friday night that he chose not to stand because: “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.”
Sunday, he clarified that his actions are not meant as disrespect toward the military.
“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country,” said Kaepernick. “I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. 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. That’s something that’s not happening.
“I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought have for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.”
Kaepernick said no one has asked him to tone down his message. He addressed his teammates during a team meeting Sunday and said they’ve been supportive.
“Everyone in this country is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs,” said Niners Pro Bowl linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
But Kaepernick’s ex-teammate, Minnesota Vikings guard Alex Boone, blasted him during an interview with USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Pelissero on Sunday.
Source: USA Today | Nate Davis