Colin Kaepernick has stepped into the fire for the sake of his beliefs.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback on Saturday revealed the reason for his refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem, according to NFL.com’s Steve Wyche. Kaepernick said he’s protesting wrongs committed against people of color in the United States, specifically recent killings by the police and other law enforcement officials.
“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 Wyche. “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.”
Kaepernick remained seated Friday during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the 49ers’ preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. He lodged a similar protest in at least one other game, according to Wyche.
The 49ers said in a statement that they support Kaepernick’s right to express himself. But they didn’t back their quarterback’s stance.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team 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 and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Kaepernick, 28, acknowledged that he risks losing popularity, sponsors and even his job.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick 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.”
Kaepernick joins other prominent athletes who have spoken out on social issues. While other sports figures have critiqued U.S. society, few have been as scathing as Kaepernick.
The 49ers quarterback, who is biracial, likely will divide opinion, and he’s bound to receive backlash for his controversial stance.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images