Before Colin Kaepernick sat for most of Friday night’s preseason game, he sat for the national anthem.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, no reporter asked about nor did the quarterback initially provide a reason why he sat down during “The Star Spangled Banner.” But the team released a statement following the game obliquely categorizing the incident as one of “expression” rather than negligence.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team explained to ProFootballTalk. “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 to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Kaepernick eventually outlined his motivations to NFL Media. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” the former Super Bowl starter explained. “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.”
Though the demonstrative indifference to the song sparked expected controversy, Kaepernick received praise for sitting:
Hypocrisy is pretending to LOVE and HONOR the courage shown by Muhammad Ali but spitting pure venom at #ColinKaepernick
— Brandale Randolph (@Brandale2221) August 27, 2016
— #BIGfink (@AnthonyFinkel) August 27, 2016
Kap took a stance. Defended what he did. Knowing full well what would come his way, afterward. I have to respect… https://t.co/78K6vFApSk
— PhilosophiChris (@YBeNormal) August 27, 2016
Colin Kaepernick was exercising his first amendment. There will be backlash sure. But who is to say he is wrong?
— Vic Stone (@A1SinceDayNone) August 27, 2016
ProFootballTalk points out that on Thursday a since-deleted post on a Kaepernick social media account depicted the American and Confederate flags with this caption: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.” The San Francisco 49ers quarterback, whose Twitter account features stories of police shooting minorities, commemorations of slave rebellions, and links to articles on white supremacy, grows increasingly prolific in his political re-tweets as he becomes decreasingly productive on the football field.
Kaepernick completed two of six passes for 14 yards in the 21-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium. The starting quarterback position in San Francisco increasingly looks like Blaine Gabbert’s to lose.
Kaepernick prepares to lose much more than playing time.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he told NFL Media. “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.”