The San Diego Chargers are putting together an extensive salute to the military for their preseason finale against the San Francisco 49ers. Normally this would not be a big deal, but this is not a normal time. Last Friday, Colin Kaepernick sat during the National Anthem for the third straight game, and it became a high profile protest. He has said he plans to continue sitting until he sees improvement in the treatment of people of color. It’s safe to say this protest won’t be ending soon.
San Diego has a huge military presence, which has resulted in an annual “Salute to the Military” event. The team posted their plans for the game, and beat writer Michael Gehlken posted the details. Among other things, the National Anthem will be sung by an enlisted sailor. Additionally, a “U.S. Super Flag” will be presented on the field. And of course there will be a combined military color guard.
A strong military presence during pre-game festivities at Chargers-49ers game Thursday: pic.twitter.com/qXs1hhbejQ— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) August 30, 2016
I would like to think this has been planned out for some time now. In my time with the Oakland A’s, our pre-game activities were planned out fairly well in advance. Sometimes there were last-minute things, but generally they are planned. And given that this is the team’s 28th annual Salute to Military event, I don’t think they planned this around Kaepernick and the 49ers coming to town.
That being said, it will still be a significant event. The fourth preseason game is usually fairly well ignored, but this game will be a huge exception. Kaepernick is expected to play a significant number of snaps, and very well could be starting the game. It’s safe to say the boos are going to be heavy.
Kaepernick briefly chatted with the media on Tuesday after practice, and they asked if he feared for his safety. Kaepernick said, “No, because if something happened, you’d be proving my point.” I imagine the 49ers sideline will have a little bit more security than normal. I don’t think anybody would actually try and go after Kap, but will we see a plastic beer bottle or other bit of trash be thrown at him at some point? I wouldn’t put anything past angry people. Hopefully it goes by without any issues, but it is going to be an intense game.