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Alex Smith on Colin Kaepernick: ‘For him, [the National Anthem] represented something different’

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At some point somebody was going to ask Alex Smith about the protest. He got a chance to discuss it on Thursday.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was on a Kansas City radio station for a weekly segment, and unsurprisingly, Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest during the National Anthem was brought up. The host asked Smith if he was surprised by what Kaepernick did. Our friends at Arrowhead Pride transcribed the segment, and I wanted to pull out the pertinent portion:

For sure, definitely, like the rest of the country you’re caught off guard a little bit at first. This has been said but when the national anthem is playing what comes to mind for me is our military, past and present, that allow us to play a football game. That’s kinda what resonates with me, that I’m standing on the sidelines there playing a football game and I really do think about the military at that point. Listen, he’s lived a completely different life. I’ve never walked in his shoes. For him, it represented something different. If anything has come out of this it’s what a great country we live in that you can voice your opinion, you have the right to do that, you have the right to protest. You don’t have to worry about your freedoms being taken. Certainly I don’t think anybody debates with why he’s doing it as far as the motivation there. I certainly think everybody sees what’s going on with our country in our past and today. This is how he’s chosen to go about it and it certainly seems like it means a lot to him so it’s his right to do it.

It was a calm, measured response, and I think hit the nail on the head with all this. There are plenty of people taking offense to Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the Anthem. However, Smith raised the point that Kaepernick has lived a completely different life. This results in different experiences that go well beyond the fact that he happens to be a millionaire football player. People are still going to disagree with the method for a variety of reasons. Some will acknowledge his underlying concerns. Others do not want to acknowledge them. But either way, it has engendered significant debate. At some point the debate will hopefully be fully focused on the underlying issues.

We’ve seen Kaepernick back up his words with actions, and this will hopefully push the debate forward. As more people voice support for Kaepernick, it will hopefully push things forward inch by inch.