*Wow. Colin Kaepernick went looking for trouble and it he found it. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback told NFL Media on Friday after a pre-season game loss against the Green Bay Packers that he refused to stand for the national anthem before the game to protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.
It was an admirable and obviously risky act on the athlete’s part. He explains why he did it.
“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 said. “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.”
The 49ers acknowledged in a statement that Kaepernick sat during the national anthem before the game.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pregame ceremony,” the statement said. “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 to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Kaepernick explained that he did not tell the team he was planning to protest the national anthem.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said. “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.”
READ RELATED STORY: COLIN KAEPERNICK APOLOGIZES FOR INSENSITIVE HOUSTON FLOODING POST
It’s not the first time Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem. He did it in at least one other preseason game.
Meanwhile, by taking a stand for civil rights, Kaepernick, 28, joins other athletes, like the NBA’s Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and several WNBA players in using their platform and status to raise awareness to issues affecting minorities in the U.S.
But as NFL.com’s Steve Wyche points out, refusal to support the American flag as a means to take a stand has brought incredible backlash before and likely will in this instance. One example is the NBA’s Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets, formerly Chris Jackson before converting to Islam, refused to acknowledge the flag in protest, citing similar reasons as Kaepernick and saying that it conflicted with some of his Islamic beliefs.
Abdul-Rauf drew the ire of fans and was briefly suspended by the NBA before a compromise was worked out between the league and player, who eventually stood with his teammates and coaches at the playing of the national anthem.
As he said above, Kaepernick is aware of what he is doing and that he knows there will most likely be serious repercussions for his stance.