Posted on August 27, 2016, by Travis Pulver
At one time, Colin Kaepernick was going to be the next great quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. It looked like he was going to be a worthy successor to the throne left vacant by Joe Montana and Steve Young. Alex Smith couldn’t get it done, but it looked like Kaepernick could be the one. But thanks to a political statement he made before Friday night’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, he could very well be done in the NFL.
Why? He decided to do something that doesn’t tend to sit well with football fans—he disrespected the National Anthem (but—according to him—for a good cause).
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Just like every NFL game, the National Anthem was played before kickoff, but instead of standing for it—like he has countless other times—Kaepernick decided to sit down. While it is something he is allowed to do, it is not the kind of thing that tends to play well with football fans. Many expressed their thoughts on social media throughout the game—and what they had to say was not very nice.
At the time no one knew why he did it, but he has since shared his thoughts:
“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 in an exclusive interview after the game against Green Bay. “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 released a statement of their own. They supported Kaepernick’s right to make a statement how he did but not the statement itself:
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. 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 and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
It is entirely within Kaepernick’s rights to make his statement, but at the same time, it is entirely within the rights of the fans that are unhappy with his stance to speak their minds as well. Some may not like his message, but for most, it will be how he made it that will upset him.
Kaepernick made his thoughts on the flag clear on Twitter Thursday when he retweeted a message with a picture of the U.S. and Confederate flags (PFT):
“The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.”
In making his statement, he is also ignoring history. People love the celebrities that entertain them, but the quickest way to go from hero to zero is to disrespect the country. The Dixie Chicks certainly learned the hard way in 2003 what can happen to record sales and air time when one of them bashed then-president George W. Bush during a concert in London.
The band became so controversial that the American Red Cross turned down a $1 million promotional partnership with them.
While Kaepernick may have had a worthy cause in mind, it will be widely overlooked because of the other message—the anti-American message—that most fans will take away from his statement. Many will hear his intended message, but many more will hear that he doesn’t like America and could care less about the sacrifice thousands of soldiers make every day and have made so he can be disrespectful to the National Anthem.
As the reason for his statement becomes known, the backlash will likely intensify–but he says he is prepared for that:
“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.”
That’s easy to say when you have already made $29.3 million and will make another $14.3 million this season. When the 49ers decide to swallow the $4.9 million in dead money next season and let him go, and his career ends because no one wants the anti-America quarterback leading their team, it will be interesting to see if he still feels the same way.