Colin Kaepernick says he’ll continue to sit for the national anthem until he feels that the “flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country.” As you might expect, this has set off a firestorm of criticism from every corner of the internet.
The latest to weigh in: CBS Sports NFL studio analyst and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, who is wholly unimpressed with the 49ers quarterback.
“I cannot say it in the strongest, most direct way, that it’s an embarrassment and it’s about as disrespectful as any athlete has ever been,” Esiason said at a CBS event Tuesday in New York, via NewsDay‘s Bob Glauber. “And I don’t care what the cause is. The NFL football field is not a place for somebody to further their political ambitions. Can you imagine if a player went out on the field with a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and let’s vote for (Donald) Trump? It’s the same thing.”
Athletes have made political statements for almost as long as we’ve had professional sports; Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown did it a half-century ago, and it was less than two years ago that five St. Louis Rams players came out of the tunnel with the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose in recognition of recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
“He is severely under-informed, and I welcome him to go ride in a cop car and take numerous 911 calls, going into places where guns and violence are everyday occurrences. Put on that blue (police) uniform and put the shield on and see what it’s like to put your life in harm’s way every single day, and then get back to me when you’re making $35,000 or $40,000 a year, as opposed to the $11 million he’s making.”
Esiason says his issue isn’t with Kaepernick’s message but where he chooses to deliver it.
“It’s an NFL football field, and he’s wearing an NFL uniform. At the end of the day, if he wants to do it in a news conference, if he wants to do it and talk about it at the ESPY’s and talk about it at an event he’s having, more power to him. Those are the places you should be doing it, like LeBron James is doing it, like Carmelo Anthony is hoping to do it.
“But if Carmelo Anthony walks on the court in a Knicks uniform and starts in with this, I think it’s going to create a lot of problems,” he said. “I don’t think it’s their right to do it on a court which a team pays them millions of dollars to perform a job. I find it completely disrespectful, not only to the military, but to the men and women who wear the blue uniform and protect our cities every — day.”
Two weeks ago, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers admitted that NFL players fear repercussions from the NFL for speaking out, adding, “I think if more guys maybe did in our league, it would create a domino effect possibly.”
Put another way: It seems like everyone wants players to speak out right up until the moment they do.