Hot Kaepernick Takes

Monday saw no end to the Colin Kaepernick takes. Everyone weighed in, and while some, like Ndamukong Suh and Denver Bronco Brandon Marshall had his back, most took issue with his protest.

Drew Brees said yesterday that the issue had been “bothering me all day long” and that he “wholeheartedly” disagreed with Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem. While Brees said he supports Kaepernick’s right to protest, he said “there’s plenty of other ways that you can do that in a peaceful manner that doesn’t involve being disrespectful to the American flag.”

Richard Sherman said he believed Kaepernick was coming “from a good place” and addressed a number of issues that Kaepernick had raised, but also pointed out that “any time you don’t stand during the national anthem, people are going to criticize it. And that’s the unfortunate part of it. You can’t ever stand against the flag and things like that. A lot of people sacrificed and things like that for it.”

So plenty of people hate the guy for doing it. And even those who support him and believe it’s his right to do it, are saying that’s not the time or place; that he should have used a different platform for it. Fine. But– how? With a tweet? Or a blog post? Or a column in The Players Tribune? Or a sit down interview?

People feel very strongly about the flag and the national anthem, as they should. So when you protest it, you’re going to get a strong response. And so far, most of the response has been around how Kaepernick protested, not actually what he’s protesting.

Since Friday, there hasn’t been much of a public discussion in the NFL about the issues that Kaepernick wanted to highlight, like police violence. So if you want to argue that he shouldn’t have chosen the national anthem as a time to protest because the method would overshadow the purpose, I’ll listen to that.

But I guarantee a blog post on Friday, isn’t still a topic on Tuesday. It might make people feel more comfortable, but there’s no way it would get the attention that sitting during the national anthem has generated. The point of a protest isn’t to make people feel comfortable. It’s the opposite. The point is to make people feel uncomfortable, it’s to draw attention, and generate discussion. Muhammad Ali didn’t make people feel comfortable when he refused to go to Vietnam. Tommie Smith and John Carlos didn’t make people feel comfortable at the ’68 Olympics. That was the point. That and actually getting their point across. And Kaepernick did that too.

Again, I’m not sitting for the national anthem. But just because he did, doesn’t mean he’s disrespecting the military and that he hates America.

What he hates is what he sees, namely police brutality. You can say that wasn’t the platform to use, but he wasn’t violent in his protest and didn’t prevent anyone else from respecting the flag. What you can’t say is that it didn’t work; because it did. Because we’re all still talking about it today.

As far as him disrespecting the military, this is complicated. Many are assuming the anthem is tied directly to the military; that it was written to honor the military. It may not be that simple. The  anthem can mean many things to many people. And he says in no way was he looking to disrespect the military.

Look, I never served and there’s no way I’m going to tell anyone who has, how they should feel about this. But I tend to believe him when he says this has nothing to do with the military and that he appreciates those who have served this country.

This much I do know: It sure as hell isn’t helping this guy’s job prospects. He had a terrible offseason, he can’t even beat out Blaine Gabbert, and if there’s anything coaches hate more than a distraction, it’s a distraction from a backup QB. So he may be committing career suicide.

But standing up for what he believes in obviously is more important than keeping his mouth shut in order to save his job. Because pretty soon, he probably won’t have one.

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