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Jed York explains decision to donate $1 million following Colin Kaepernick protest

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The 49ers CEO discussed the concerns people raised about Colin Kaepernick’s protest, how the team handled it, and the underlying issues.

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Thursday they will donate $1 million to a pair of Bay Area charities working to improve social inequities. It comes on the heels of Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest and his plans to donate $1 million to various community organizations.

CEO Jed York announced the donations, and sat down with ESPN’s Jim Trotter to discuss Kaepernick’s protest and the decision to make the donation. I’ve posted some video below, but here is a transcript as well. The video does not cover the whole interview, so head here to read more of Jed York’s comments on the underlying issues.

Opening:

My initial reaction was, “What’s going on, why is he doing this?” and I think once you started to have a conversation, once you understand what his underlying issues were, whether or not I agree with the form of protest, I understand the underlying socio-economic and racial issues that exist in this country. And I understand what he’s protesting.

On initial concern it might divide the team:

Like any football team, the distraction word always comes up, and you worry about that. And I give credit to Coach Kelly, to Trent, and really our locker room, for coming together immediately. And our locker room had a player’s only meeting, started with the leadership council. And then went to the entire 53, and I think you saw guys that initially were taken aback by Colin’s stance, started to understand what he was doing and why he was doing it. And I fundamentally believe, to have a great work place, and to have a successful organization, you need to have healthy dialogue. And that means having 53 different views, which is what you have in a locker room. The one view that is common is we’re trying to win football games.

On if Kaepernick’s stance came into discussion about roster spot:

It really didn’t, at all. We had had this discussion previously, obviously there are contract issues that people have talked about, and injury guarantees and things like that. That’s all part of the salary cap analysis and things like that, and who’s on this football team. But, we’re only going to make decisions about our football team for what you do on the field