Last week, prior to the San Francisco 49ers‘ third preseason game, Colin Kaepernick was spotted taking a seat during the singing of the national anthem. A photo of Kaepernick seated on the bench behind his teammates grabbed hold of everyone in the NFL world’s attention, and Kaepernick’s subsequent explanation that he would not stand for the anthem until there’s significant change in the way people of color are treated in America turned this into the biggest story of the NFL preseason.
Even though it has only been a week, a whole lot has happened in that time. Here’s a quick recap of where we stand:
The photo (tweet) that started it all
After the photo of Kaepernick seated during the anthem surfaced, he explained that his reasons for not standing were “bigger than football.”
“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.com. “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.”
The NFL responded with a statement: “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
Players reacted, and so did everyone else
NFL players spent the next few hours reacting to Kaepernick’s stand and the reasoning behind it.
As our John Breech noted, much of the reaction was split along racial lines. Some players came out directly in opposition to Kaepernick’s stance or demanded that he find a better way to protest than sitting during the anthem. Another group acknowledged that how Kaepernick protested wasn’t the point and that the conversation should instead be centered on the issues he brought up.
Kaepernick confirms he’s taking a stand
The next day, Kaepernick held an 18-minute Q&A session with reporters in which he stated that he would not stand until the treatment of people of color was meaningfully changed.
“Yes. I’ll continue to sit,” Kaepernick said. “I’m going to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change and when there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country-is representing the way that it’s supposed to-I’ll stand.”
A former teammate rips Kaepernick
“That flag obviously gives (Kaepernick) the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it,” Boone said. “At the same time, you should have some f—— respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom. And I get that he can do whatever he wants. But there’s a time and a place. Show some respect, and that’s just how I feel.”
Boone, like several others, apparently took Kaepernick’s stance as an anti-military one, even though Kaepernick explicitly stated that was not the case.
Some NFL players show support for Kaepernick
“He plans on standing for the national anthem,” his agent Corey Williams said in a statement, per ESPN. “Myke does not want to be a distraction to the Philadelphia Eagles organization. Myke’s goal is and will always be to make the Eagles 53-man roster and help the team win a Super Bowl.”
Trump weighs in: He can leave he country
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who was referred to as “openly racist” by Kaepernick in his Q&A, stated that Kaepernick can leave the country if he doesn’t like it here.
In an interview with KIRO-AM in Seattle:
Dori: “Are you following 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the anthem? He had bad things to say about both you and Hillary.”
Trump: “I have followed it and I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing. And maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try. It won’t happen.”
Outraged fans speak out, burn jerseys
Videos surfaced of 49ers fans burning Kaepernick’s jersey.
San Francisco police: Kap protest inappropriate
There was another video that was not quite safe for work.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association, which has been in the news for its institutionalized racism (some of the things said by the officers in text messages and emails are truly abhorrent) sent a letter to the NFL and Kaepernick in which it called him an embarrassment to the league.
“While we certainly acknowledge Mr. Kaepernick’s first amendment right to remain seated during the national anthem, as inappropriate as it may be, we will not stand by while he attacks police officers with statements such as ‘People are on paid leave while people of color are killed,’ ” SFPOA President Martin Halloran wrote.
Rodney Harrison questions Kap’s race, apologizes
Former NFL safety and current “Sunday Night Football” studio analyst Rodney Harrison stated that Kaepernick is “not black” and therefore didn’t understand the issues that Harrison and other black men face on a daily basis.
“I tell you this, I’m a black man. And Colin Kaepernick — he’s not black,” Harrison said on iHeartRadio (h/t Sporting News). “He cannot understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face, or people of color face, on a every single (day) basis. When you walk in a grocery store, and you might have $2,000 or $3,000 in your pocket and you go up in to a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you about to steal something. You know, I don’t think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis.”
Harrison later apologized.
Boomer lowers the boom
Former NFL quarterback and current CBS Sports studio analyst Boomer Esiason also called Kaepernick an embarrassment.
“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, per Newsday. “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.”
Veterans: Kap has right to express himself
#VeteransForKaepernick becomes the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter. Despite the fact that many of the people who opposed Kaepernick’s stand couching their disapproval in the stance that Kaepernick was disrespecting the military, many veterans voiced their support for his actions by noting that freedom of expression is exactly the kind of thing they risk their lives to fight for.
Here’s a quick sample:
The hashtag is still fairly active with support.
Anonymous NFL exec: Kap is a ‘traitor’
An anonymous NFL executive called Kaepernick a “traitor” while another told Bleacher Report that Kaepernick is the most hated NFL player since Rae Carruth, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder (against a woman that was pregnant with his child).
More from NFL execs in the story:
“I don’t want him anywhere near my team,” one front office executive said. “He’s a traitor.”
“He has no respect for our country,” one team executive said. “F–k that guy.”
A Green Beret writes a letter to Kap
Nate Boyer, a Green Beret and free-agent longsnapper, wrote a letter to Kaepernick.
“Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it,” Boyer wrote. “When I told my mom about this article, she cautioned me that ‘the last thing our country needed right now was more hate.’ As usual, she’s right.”
He continued: “There are already plenty people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind. I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you. Keep on trying … De Oppresso Liber.”
De Oppresso Liber is the Army Special Forces motto, which means “To Free the Oppressed.”
Kaepernick invited the aforementioned Nate Boyer to the game in San Diego. Boyer said they had a “good talk” about Kaepernick’s stance.
Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer provided more information about their meeting on Twitter:
My man @NateBoyer37 epitomizes what’s right in this country. Credit to Colin Kaepernick who invited Nate down to San Diego to have an open dialogue today. Nate said they spoke for about 90 minutes, both presented their sides, thoughts and talked about compromise and not dishonoring those who’ve served.
“Being able to move forward and understanding what his message is but also understanding what that flag means is important. We talked about change a lot and how to get positive change to happen. We talked about issues that are taking place in this country and how to prompt change but i also reminded him the great freedoms and luxuries we have in America.”
Nate was also invited by Kap and the 49ers to be their guest for tonight’s game, so Nate is planning on standing with the team.
Here’s a photo of Kap and Boyer after their meeting:
Kap’s cops-as-pigs socks spark more outrage
A photo surfaced of Kaepernick wearing socks with police pigs on them. (The photo was old.) He took to Instagram to explain.
“I wore these socks, in the past, because the rogue cops that are allowed to hold positions in police departments, not only put the community in danger, but also put the cops that have the right intentions in danger by creating an environment of tension and mistrust,” Kaepernick wrote in an Instagram comment. “I have two uncles and friends who are police officers and work to protect and serve ALL people. So before these socks, which were worn before I took my public stance, are used to distract from the real issues, I wanted to address this immediately.”
49ers fans take jabs at Kap
It’s unclear whether those actions were taken in protest of Kaepernick’s stance or simply because Gabbert is in line to be the starter for the 49ers, taking Kaepernick’s old job.
Another fan wore a shirt that read, “Have Respect — Kaepernick #7 — USA Marine Mom.”
That was all before the game, though.
A show of solidarity: Teammate kneels with Kap
The booing of Kaepernick started as soon as he ran on Thursday night and didn’t stop until 49ers coach Chip Kelly pulled him from the game at the beginning of the second half.
Chargers fans were relentless with Kaepernick, booing him on all 34 plays that he participated in during the 49ers 31-21 win.
Kaepernick got booed by Chargers fans despite the fact that he was applauding the 240 military members who were being honored on the field before the national anthem as part of the Chargers 28th annual ‘Salute the Military’ night.
Seattle’s Jeremy Lane sits during anthem
Joining the two 49ers in staying seated was Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane. According to The Seattle Times, Lane was the only Seahawk who remained seated.
Kaepernick to donate $1M to communities in need
After the game, Kaepernick stated that he will donate $1 million to charities that help communities in need.
“I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and to be able to make the kind of money I do,” Kaepernick said. “And I have to help these people. I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in a position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed.”
Kaepernick also explained why he and Reid took a knee during the anthem rather than stay seated:
“As far as taking a knee tonight, Eric [Reid] — as well as myself — had a long conversation with Nate Boyer, who is a military vet,” Kaepernick said. “And we were talking to him about, ‘How can we get the message back on track? And not take away from the military. … But keep the focus on what the issues really are.’
“As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee, because there are issues that still need to be addressed. And it was also a way to try to show more respect to the men and women that fight for this country.”
Source: CBS Sports / Kaepernick’s protest: National anthem, socks, police, and 18 things to know