Joe Cardona respects Colin Kaepernick’s rights as an American. But that doesn’t mean he agrees with Kaepernick’s recent actions.
Cardona, the New England Patriots’ long snapper, is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and one of two active military members currently playing in the NFL. As such, he viewed Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem through a different prism than most of his fellow players.
“Initial reactions are usually the wrong way to look at things, but he’s doing what he feels is right,” Cardona recently told the Boston Herald. “It is his right to do so. Obviously, I don’t agree with the method just because I know what it means for so many people. The national anthem, watching the flag raise, it means a lot to a lot of people, especially those serving overseas, those that have served, those that have fought for the freedoms that we have.
“But in that, he’s just exercising his right — a right that many have fought for. And that’s ultimately what it is. It is his right, and I’ll always respect the fact that he’s exercising that right as an American.”
Kaepernick made national headlines when he was seen sitting during the national anthem ahead of the San Francisco 49ers’ third preseason game. The 49ers quarterback continued his protest the following week, though he knelt on the sideline the second time rather than sitting on the bench.
“I’m not going to worry about being offended over somebody else’s decision, however they want to do it,” Cardona told the Herald. “I’m always going to stand as tall as I can for the national anthem, that’s just the way I am and the way things are as an active military member. That’s my duty, to stand tall for the flag and to represent as a service member during the national anthem. That’s something I’ll continue to do and continue to have pride in.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose father coached and scouted at Navy for more than 30 years, twice has declined to comment on the Kaepernick situation, including once during his news conference Tuesday morning.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images