Colin Kaepernick, as you’re presumably aware by now, declined to stand up for the National Anthm for Friday’s preseason game against the Packers. “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’s Sam 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.”
It’s hardly surprising that Kaepernick’s decision has been polarizing. Some have applauded the protest gesture, others have castigated it. On Saturday, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman passed along this unofficial census of how the gesture is being perceived inside league circles:
On-record reactions from players are trickling in. “I respect everybody’s opinion,” Kaepernick’s former teammate Anquan Boldin told the Detroit Free Press. “Everybody has one. I’m sure he’s going to get flack for it, what he did, but that’s the great thing about being in America, you have that option.”
“I think a lot of people get bent out of shape about it,” Boldin continued. “Even if you don’t agree with what someone does, you still have to respect their opinion and how they feel about something. You can agree or disagree with it but you still have to respect it. That’s the right that we have as Americans, and that’s the great part about being an American.”
“I will be STANDING during the National Anthem tonight,” tweeted Giants guard Justin Pugh. “Thank you to ALL (Gender,Race,Religion) that put your lives on the line for that flag. To clarify I’m not saying I know what it’s like to walk in someone’s shoes, I don’t. Just stating what the National Anthem means to me.”
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins was mostly middle of the road, but would not handle things the same way Kaepernick did. “We stand there for the National Anthem and sometimes those thoughts go through your mind,’’ he told Philly.com. “Do I want to actually acknowledge this? Because you might be upset about what’s going on. But me personally, I have a lot of friends that served (in the military). My grandfather served. And this is a country that I love. So, me not standing for the National Anthem isn’t really going to get me the results that I want.’’
“I’d rather be doing something in the community (about the situation). Talking to people that can actually make some change,” Jenkins continued. “That’s just my approach. But everybody’s got their own convictions and everybody has their own opinions. I’m not one to tell him he’s right or wrong.”
This presumably isn’t the last we’ve heard of this story.