San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has welcomed the overwhelming criticism he has received in the wake of his refusal to stand for the playing of the national anthem before NFL games.
“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 Media Friday night following the 49ers’ preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers. “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.”
But there are many in the league who have condemned Kaepernick’s decision to use his First Amendment rights to disrespect the anthem, which many Americans regard as a national symbol of true American values — the sort of values Kaepernick claims to want upheld for blacks. Apparently they saw it as hypocritical. Imagine that.
The day after Colin Kaepernick’s pregame demonstration, New York Giants players and staff decided to show the quarterback how true Americans conduct themselves, standing in rigid formation ahead of their game against the New York Jets.
This photo, posted on Twitter by The Record’s Tara Sullivan, captures the team’s “pretty deliberate” act of reverence:
Pretty deliberate sideline for the Giants during the anthem tonight. All players and staff standing. pic.twitter.com/5iqUJp4eqQ
— tara sullivan (@Record_Tara) August 27, 2016
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz told USA Today Saturday night why he disagreed with Kaepernick’s decision to exercise his freedom of expression by spitting in the face of the country that grants him that freedom:
“I think, personally, the flag is the flag. Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things like that. You’ve got to respect the flag and stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion. I think you go up there. You’re with your team, and you pledge your allegiance to the flag and the national anthem as a team, and then you go about your business, whatever your beliefs are. Colin is his own man. He decided to sit down and sit out and that’s his prerogative. But from a personal standpoint, I think you have to stand out there with your team and understand that this is a game and understand that what’s going on in the country.”
Kaepernick’s former teammate, Minnesota Vikings guard Alex Boone, was also explicit in his criticism of the quarterback.
“It’s hard for me, because my brother was a Marine, and he lost a lot of friends over there,” Boone, who played with Kaepernick for five seasons, told USA Today Sunday. “That flag obviously gives (Kaepernick) the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it. At the same time, you should have some (expletive) respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom.”
Boone called his former teammate’s actions “shameful.”
Kaepernick defended his decision again Sunday, saying that “a lot of things need to change” before he feels like he can stand by his country. Perhaps he could start by changing his attitude.
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 29, 2016
(For more from the author of “Patriotic NFL Players Show Colin Kaepernick How to Properly Honor America” please click HERE)