Two weeks ago, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said speaking out on social issues starts with leadership, but added, “some guys in the NFL are probably worried about repercussions on speaking their mind from the league.”
Rodgers continued: “Those guys are doing it and they feel comfortable doing it. I think if more guys maybe did in our league, it would create a domino effect possibly.”
On Friday, as Rodgers and his teammates were preparing to face the 49ers, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was on the other side of the field sitting through the national anthem. Kaepernick’s explanation afterward:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “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 says he will continue to sit until there is “significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country … I’ll stand.”
Predictably, the public backlash has been both swift and severe. But not everyone is quick to accuse Kaepernick of being unpatriotic, perhaps because, ultimately he’s voicing an opinion guaranteed by the constitution, even if it angers and upsets others who can’t understand why he’s doing it.
Here’s Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins:
“We stand there for the national anthem and sometimes those thoughts go through your mind,” Jenkins said Saturday, via the Philly.com’s Paul Domowitch. “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. 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.”
And here’s Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins:
“If you live in America, you have the right to express yourself freely,” Seferian-Jenkins told MMQB’s Peter King. “This is not a Communist country. It’s the land of the free and the home of the brave, and people sacrifice their lives so Americans can have the freedom of speech that he chose to use — regardless of how people feel about it.
“But I think if he’s serious about the problem, he should invest in the black community. He should invest in education. He should invest in Oakland. People have been standing up and saying things, but we need action.”
This is a complex and layered situation, one neither suited for or resolved through 140 characters. And what this means for Kaepernick’s future with the 49ers remains unclear. After Friday’s preseason game, coach Chip Kelly told reporters that “It’s not my right to tell him not to do something, that’s his right as a citizen,” and added that “There’s never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick.”
But Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reports that Kaepernick faces “a very, very big uphill battle to make this team,” though it has nothing to do with his sitting out the anthem and everything to do with his on-field struggles.
NFL teams must reduce their rosters to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon, and final 53-man rosters must be set by Saturday.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / NFL players: There are better ways for Kaepernick to affect change