Colin Kaepernick didn’t play that well in the 49ers’ home preseason game Friday night, but he did plenty more to hurt his standing with the team before the game — by sitting during the national anthem.
This wasn’t Gabby Douglas doing something different but culturally acceptable in the most patriotic of moments. This was an NFL quarterback sticking to his convictions and making a strong political statement.
But because it’s the N-F-L, an athletic organization even more about the U-S-A than the Olympics, Kaepernick must accept the backlash that’s about to come from everywhere.
It’s admirable that Kaepernick hasn’t held back his individual expression on social issues. He’s been very candid about #BlackLivesMatter. In an endorsement-first era where most NFL players are corporate-first entertainers, his fearlessness to speak out is refreshing.
There’s a reason, however, Tom Brady, in his Red, White and Blue Patriots colors, stays apolitical despite some notable political friends. Or that Russell Wilson, Kaepernick’s young QB rival in the NFC West, is so rah rah about everything he and the Seahawks are doing to the point of overkill.
Football is a team sport, but quarterbacks are the biggest stars between the stripes. How they pass and run is only one small part of their job description. They have to play the part through and though. That means putting aside what they might really think to act like the respected leader of teammates. It also means being a respected face of the franchise.
There are many coaches who feel how the Rams’ Jeff Fisher does about the national anthem. It’s not just about standing at attention for the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s the team standing together before having each other’s backs on the field.
Source: Sporting News / Vinnie Iyer