It was only a matter of time before somebody asked Jim Harbaugh his thoughts on Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the National Anthem. And it did not take long for Harbaugh to get people talking. Harbaugh was asked about it at a press conference in Ann Arbor, and he was quoted as saying, "I acknowledge his right to do that ... But I don't respect the motivation or the action."
The comment about motivation is what got people talking, as it would seem to be a critique of Kaepernick’s underlying message. There is plenty debate about those issues, but most public statements by players and coaches focused more on the method Kaepernick chose to use.
Apparently Harbaugh decided he misspoke, as he had this to say on Twitter:
I apologize for misspeaking my true sentiments. To clarify, I support Colin's motivation. It's his method of action that I take exception to— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) August 29, 2016
He did not blame the media for grabbing the wrong quotation, so he seems to acknowledge he said it and made a mistake in saying it.
There are a couple things to take from this. The first is that he legitimately messed up what he saying. It happens, and when you’re speaking off the cuff, it is possible to say the wrong word or phrase. If so, good of him to correct it immediately.
The second is that his words might be used against him when recruiting against young black athletes. College recruiting is an intense business, and opposing schools will use any and every edge they can find. You don’t think Urban Meyer or one of his representatives wouldn’t be quick to point out Harbaugh’s comment in meeting with a player of color?
Like everything with this situation, there are plenty of shades of gray worth considering. I know some people are exhausted by this, but I remain fascinated by the numerous angles to what is a fairly unprecedented situation in the NFL.