The San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick find themselves embroiled in controversy. Kaepernick chose not to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. Mike Garafolo later tweeted that he has sat the previous two games as well, but nobody noticed it.
Kaepernick spoke with NFL Media reporter Steve Wyche following the game, and offered up this statement:
"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 against Green Bay. "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’s Twitter and Instagram accounts have been focused on issues of racial injustice for much of the past year. It is not surprising to hear that this is motivated by those concerns.
I now wonder how the NFL will react to all this. My guess is nothing happens, but given how the league drapes itself in patriotic fervor, it would not really shock me if this turned into a thing with them. The last time I recall something like this happening in a professional sports league was NBA player Mahmoud Abdul Rauf. The NBA actually suspended him for a game because he chose to sit during the anthem. They reached a compromise where he would stand, but could close his eyes and look down.
Will we see something similar from the NFL? The league does like to impose its discipline with a heavy hand. And we have already seen people coming down on Kaepernick for his decision. Matt Hasselbeck, Ed Werder, and Linda Cohn are among the notable ones early in this, and I imagine it will only increase this weekend and into next week.