Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the national anthem during a pre-season game, rather than stand like most players do, and a few people noticed. But, his comments when asked why, is what caused the real commotion.

He said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. 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.”

Why He Is Wrong

Where do we even start on this? Ok, how about his reason for protest makes absolutely no sense at all? The United States of America has no laws that allow the oppression of black people or people of color. Of course this doesn’t mean that some individuals may not act in this manner, but clearly it is not allowed, supported or condoned by the Federal Government in any way.

We have a black president and both the current and former Attorney Generals have been black, this hardly seems like a country that oppresses black people. He gets paid an average of 19 million dollars a year to play football and he’s probably not even going to be the starting quarterback, that doesn’t seem very oppressed to me.

In every case where a black man was shot by police, there have been investigations (often by the Justice Department) and so far, there haven’t been many charges filed for improper actions against police officers. This means that either the shootings were justifiable or that the black Attorney Generals who report to the black president are all in on the secret black oppression / death squads roaming America.

The statistics also don’t show that there is any racism against blacks by police, as more white people are shot and killed by police even though white people have less contact (stops, arrests, questionings) with police.

Some people try to use overall population as proof that black people are killed more percentage wise, but that criteria simply doesn’t work. You wouldn’t use people in South America as a gauge for people killed by polar bears because the two simply do not meet routinely. Right or wrong, black people have more contact with police.

“There is police brutality,” Kaepernick said last Sunday. “People of color have been targeted by police. So that’s a large part of it, and they’re government officials. They are put in place by the government. So that’s something that this country has to change. There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable, make those standards higher.”

Since there is no national police force (and let’s hope there never is), showing disrespect to the flag really misses the mark here as the police seem to be his real target and they are city, county or state run, not federal. I think someone was too busy on the football field and didn’t pay attention to how government works in civics class.

With the exception of county sheriffs, I’m not aware of any local law enforcement heads or officers that are elected, and none that are appointed by the federal government. Once again, Colin Kaepernick is simply wrong on the facts.

On Thursday, Kaepernick further inflamed the issue by wearing socks with pictures of pigs dressed like police officers. “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,” Kaepernick wrote on Instagram.

And let us not forget that Colin Kaepernick was once fined $11,000 by the NFL for using racial slurs against Black Athletes. Yet now he says he cares deeply about the same race he once slandered? Is there more to his actions than just taking a stand against what he calls the oppression of black people?

What Others Think About the Protest

The San Francisco 49ers

“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.”

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees

“I disagree. I wholeheartedly disagree,” Brees said. “Not that he wants to speak out about a very important issue. No, he can speak out about a very important issue. But 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.”

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher brought up the national anthem in a team meeting, stating that it was a requirement for his players to stand and pay respect to the country while The Star-Spangled Banner is sung before games. Fisher even gave a video presentation on how his team should align during the national anthem. This was captured on HBO’s Hard Knocks.

“It’s a respect thing. It’s a self-respect thing. It’s respect for your teammates. It’s respect for this game. It’s respect for this country,” Fisher said in episode two of the HBO series.

Detroit Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia

“He needs to go back to the history books and realize what that flag represents and what a lot of people have sacrificed for it. Has nothing to do with his comments, that’s for sure. It’s pretty disgusting.”

What Does the Future Hold for Colin Kaepernick?

If Colin Kaepernick is cut by the San Francisco 49ers, he might have a very difficult time finding another job in the NFL, even as a backup quarterback. According to Bleacher Report, Kaepernick is unanimously hated for his protest of the national anthem, according to seven anonymous league executives, including one who labeled Kaepernick “a traitor.”

These seven executives declared they would never sign Kaepernick, and estimated that “90 to 95 percent of the NFL front offices felt the same way.” One of whom said, “He has no respect for our country. F— that guy.”

Blackballing Kaepernick seems like overkill for the same NFL that brought back Pacman Jones multiple times, disregarded domestic abuse charges against several of its players, gave Donte Stallworth three contracts after he was convicted of DUI manslaughter, embraced Michael Vick’s return from prison for killing dogs and handed Ray Lewis a Super Bowl MVP trophy while he was still under investigation in a murder case.

The news from Bleacher Report sure isn’t good news for someone that could be out of a job as soon as this Saturday. Kaepernick will still make $11.9 million guaranteed this season though, a payday he earned when he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 and looked to be their next superstar. But then his NFL passing rating fell to a career-low 78.5, as he went 2-6 as a starter last season.

In July 2015, Kaepernick began dating Hot 97 DJ and MTV host Nessa Diab. Within just a few months, his social media posts began to reflect the Black Lives Matter and Muslim activism that Diab shows on her social media pages. Many feel that Diab has become a negative influence on Kaepernick.

Most of Kaepernick’s older Instagram posts were simply pics of him in football gear or shots of friends, but 31 of his last 42 posts have strong social justice connotations, often featuring quotes from radical Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, Black Panthers founder Huey Newton and cop killer Assata Shakur.

During a Sunday news conference about why he did not stand during the anthem, Kaepernick dressed in a black hat with a large, white “X” and a T-shirt that featured photos of when Fidel Castro met with Malcolm X in Harlem in 1960.

There is also the thought that Kaepernick could simply be doing this as a setup for an “after football” career as he has known his days in the NFL were numbered based upon his recent play. He could now claim that he was pushed out for his views on racism, rather than his poor performance on the field.

This could be easily milked for book and movie deals as well as keep him going as “the victim” on the talk shows for years.

Why Colin Kaepernick is Right

Regardless of how accurate or inaccurate his views on the oppression of black people in America are, he is still 100% in his rights to protest what he feels is wrong. Many feel that not standing for the National Anthem is a slap in the face of the Americans that have served in the military or lost their lives in defense of freedom here and abroad, but it isn’t illegal.

No one is actually required to stand for the National Anthem, it is done out of respect, out of honor, and those are not things that can be forced upon anyone, they either feel them or they don’t. Some teams like the Los Angeles Rams have a “company policy” about their employee’s actions during the Star Spangled Banner and some like the 49ers do not, so there is no punishment that his team should levy on him.

The NFL as a league has no requirements for player’s actions during the anthem either, but they do have very strict rules about what players wear, so it is doubtful that Kaepernick’s pig-cop socks will ever appear during a regular season game. The league, however, has no reason to take any action against Kaepernick for his refusal to stand during the anthem.

No branch of the military has their enlisted take any type of oath to stand for or protect the flag, their oath is that they “will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, …” For this very reason, many veterans have come out in support of Kaepernick as they fought to ensure he has the freedom to do as he likes during the anthem or any other time.

We have to remember that some people will say or do things that offend us, but we must ensure their right to do so, because without that, we are no longer a free nation.

Bill Kendall