Having spent time with Colin Kaepernick’s adoptive parents in the past, MMQB and Sports Illustrated writer Robert Klemko wasn’t surprised by the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem before Friday night’s game against the Green Bay Packer, in an effort to protest America’s oppression of “black people and people of color” as his main reason. Klemko joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and spoke about his discussion with Kaepernick’s parents Teressa and Rick, who are white, and what he took away from them on how they raised the bi-racial quarterback.
“They never tried to raise Colin to feel like he was white. They never raised him to feel like he was just like everybody else or not to see color, and they raised him to be black. They told him how beautiful black was,” Klemko said. “They drove him an hour away to Modesto from Turlock, California to get his hair braided up like Allen Iverson. So knowing that he has that kind of view of the world, and to see his evolution on social media, all the things that he shared over the past year, throughout the rise of Black Lives Matter and throughout all this scrutiny on police behavior in the United States towards minorities, it’s really not a huge surprise to see him do this.”
The thing Klemko believes is a surprise is an NFL quarterback in Kaepernick’s position making that kind of statement.
“I mean it’s huge in a lot of ways. It’s an extremely risky move that professionally, I can’t see it going any way other than poorly for him,” Klemko said. “You look at Alex Boone’s comments today, and that’s a guy who use to block for him, and is now in Minnesota. But I think the overarching feeling among leadership in the NFL is that quarterbacks ought to be inclusive. They also must be the guy that can relate to every single guy on the roster from the white kid from Minnesota to the black guy from Dade County, Florida, and when you make political statement like this, I think that hurts those aspirations for quarterbacks.”
Klemko also pointed out this isn’t the same quarterback who burst onto the scene his first year as an NFL starter.
“Colin is a guy who is fighting for a roster spot. I mean, he’s very much on the bubble there,” Klemko said. “A very different situation than he was in 2012, when he first came into the public consciousness. So in that sense, it’s a completely unprecedented thing for him to do.”
Klemko also said if Kaepernick ends up getting cut in San Francisco, he’s not sure if any other NFL team would rush to sign him.
“It would not be a shock to me if he didn’t play football this year,” Klemko said. “If things don’t work out for him there and he’s not allowed to continue fighting for that job and continue competing with Blaine Gabbert, who’s going to bring in that kind of PR headache. The one thing that everybody is focusing is this idea that he disrespected the soldiers in not standing for the national anthem. Everyone wants to talk about that instead of talking about the issue he’s raising, and I think the controversy, that sentiment brought about, is something that most teams will want to avoid.”