"I have to stand up for people that are oppressed."
San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick refused to stand up for the National Anthem prior to last night's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Today, Kaepernick issued a hard stance on why he didn't think it was necessary to stand while the rest of the players, coaches and fans in the stadium saluted the flag.
"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 in an exclusive interview after the game. "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 has done this before but his most recent "sit-in" has really caught the attention of the sports world, which led to the 49ers releasing this statement regarding the issue:
"The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. 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 and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."
The NFL also released a statement about Kaepernick's behavior, saying players are encouraged, but not required to stand for the Anthem. He knew that his "protest" wouldn't go unnoticed and he's not backing down from his decision; he's ready to deal with the backlash.
"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," he said. "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."
What do you guys think about Kaepernick's decision to sit during the National Anthem? Is he making a valid effort to create social change or is he just being disrespectful to the troops that have served, and are currently serving, our country?
Here's how some people on twitter, including current and former NFL players, are reacting: