A week after San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick’s choice to sit during the National Anthem went public, the movement that the quarterback started picked up momentum, crossing over into several other sports as well as into some classrooms. Thankfully, some of the controversy has diminished following his meeting with former green beret Nate Boyer in San Diego, which had led to a compromise to take a knee and the forming of a friendship.
Boyer feels like their meeting and continued interaction has legitimized the perception of Kaepernick’s protest to a certain extent. The QB took it a step further by generously offering to donate one million dollars to organizations to assist those in challenged communities, literally putting his money where his mouth is.
So what’s next? That’s something that Boyer has had on his mind, and as a result, will continue to have an open conversation with Kaepernick during his progress. He spoke to me about not wanting the QB to be taken advantage of:
It’s not so much about the money, just organizations in general. There’s so many big organizations, that I know will try to control his message and exploit him and that’s just not fair to him because from what I gather, that’s not what he’s about. He wants to see this country improve and he wants to bring us together and he wants to see things get better. That’s what I gather, maybe I’m wrong, but I’m very weary about, whether it’s faith based or not, the organizations and large groups that are sort of reaching out to him and engaging him. I just want to help him find his own message in his own way, because even though this isn’t about him, this whole discussion started because of the risk he took in doing what he did.
What he isn’t worried about is Kaepernick’s level of commitment, who has walked the walk thus far. Boyer not only hopes that others step up to join the movement, but is calling out people to not only give lip service to the cause but to also open their wallets and get involved in the communities in need.
I hope that everybody else that joins him, not even hope, they better do the same thing. If you’re going to do that, and protest in some way, if there’s no action behind it, it’s just an empty gesture and it’s not helping anything. If you feel the desire to do that, and take a stand, or a knee, or whatever you want to call it, please do, but you better follow that up with action. As professional athletes, they make a lot of money. Even league minimum is a lot of money, so if you’re going to protest the Anthem, in front of millions and millions of people, you better follow it up and you better get involved in your community and try be a part of fixing the problem not just being a voice and expecting others to fix it.
49ers owner and CEO Jed York already answered the call, matching Kaepernick’s one million dollars, contributing to two Bay Area foundations; Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation. (Kaepernick has yet to name the organizations that he is planning to work with.)
Boyer is familiar with facilitating this sort of problem solving, “Train, Advise and Assist” is the calling card of the special forces. He wants to make sure he’s helping to find a solution rather than adding to the controversy. Inadvertently, in doing so, Boyer became the bridge or middle man between Kaepernick and those who oppose him.
Standing with his hand on his heart, singing the National Anthem next to a kneeling Kaepernick and Eric Reid is what Boyer sees as the true picture of the United States. People of different backgrounds and skin colors with different opinions, but desiring similar goals. A less divided America would be the ultimate end product, and it will be a slow process, but Boyer thinks it’s attainable. His own ability to let his opinion evolve is not the only proof. Boyer has been contacted by numerous people, from celebrities to active duty, from veterans to people who have never served and all of them have thanked him for opening their eyes, facilitating positive conversations, and hopefully provoking change.