Colin Kaepernick had himself a day yesterday. First, people finally noticed the socks he’d worn in practice since at least August 10. Black socks with cartoon pigs wearing police hats. And of course it went viral and people jumped on it as a sign that Kaepernick was saying something about cops. And his response was, yes. Yes I am. He posted on Instagram: “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. I have two uncles and friends who are police officers and work to protect and serve ALL people.”
I get protesting issue of police violence and racial inequality; I’m just not sure cartoon pig socks is the way to get it across. It’s definitely a way, I’m just not sure it’s the best way. Because if your intent is to protest rogue cops, it can come across as you’re protesting all cops. And it reduces the issue to a viral meme or a joke, which you’re not looking to do.
I’m not going to tell someone what socks to wear or how to protest, but that didn’t seem to line up with the Colin Kaepernick who reached out to former Green Beret Nate Boyer and met with him for 90 minutes before the game. Then, when it was time for the national anthem, instead of taking a seat, he took a knee, with teammate Eric Reid taking a knee on one side of him and Boyer standing on the other.
When it was over, he hugged Reid, and Boyer, and then a number of his teammates. So much for that rap that he’s selfish, putting himself ahead of the group and destroying team chemistry. Reid was also part of the meeting with Boyer, a meeting which Kaepernick said was where the idea for taking a knee came from: “We were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country 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 there was also a way to show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country.”
And before Seattle’s game against Oakland, Seahawks corner Jeremy Lane took a seat during the national anthem as well. Three guys isn’t a movement, but it’s more than I expected. Because after seeing Kaepernick take the clobbering that he did for the last week, it takes courage to say, I’ll sign up for that, too. I’m sure they aren’t the only three players in the league who are concerned about the issues. There are probably a number of guys who’d say they’ve got his back, but not actually show the world they have his back.
And as for the issue of whether Kaepernick has an issue with the military, that was answered when veterans and active duty members were honored on the videoboard, as God Bless The USA played, and Kaepernick stood and applauded. “Once again, I’m not anti-American. I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better. I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from.”
Kaepernick also said that he’ll be donating $1 million dollars “to different organizations to help these communities and help these people. I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people. I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed, or given the opportunities to succeed.”
So to recap, it was a night where he tried to answer some of the questions that were raised since Friday.
Hates the military? He met with Boyer, changed his physical position out of respect, and applauded active duty and vets during the game.
Hates the country? He stressed that he’s not anti-American, that he loves the country and wants to make it better.
He’s rich, why doesn’t he do something with his money? He’s giving $1 million towards this work.
He’s just trying to get cut? He went 11 for 18 for 103 yards, along with four carries for 38 yards in the first half. Granted, it was against the Chargers backups, but nothing about that performance made it seem like he’s trying to get cut.
Last night might not change many minds. People who hated him probably still hate him, and probably even more after seeing his pig socks. But last night may have also shown more of what he’s about and what he’s hoping to do.