ASHBURN, Va. - There is a major debate brewing over an NFL player's decision to protest the national anthem. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he will continue to sit during the anthem because the tradition represents a country that still allows racial oppression.
“Ultimately it is to bring awareness and to make people realize what is really going on in this country,” Kaepernick said. “There are a lot of things that is going that are unjust, people are not being held accountable for and that is something that needs to change.”
“This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all and it is not happening for all right now,” he added.
Kaepernick was asked if he thought his stand might jeopardize his standing on the team. He said if he is ultimately cut by the 49ers, he would feel he still made the right decision.
The 49ers released a statement that reads in part: "In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."
The star-spangled quarterback controversy is the talk of every team in the NFL right now and the Washington Redskins are no exception. These players are no rookies when it comes to having to tackle controversial issues – whether it is over their own team or in instances like this when the NFL is thrust into the middle of a national debate over a social or political issue.
The Redskins took the practice field on Monday fully aware of the controversy that has been going on around the country with Kaepernick. After practice was over, the coaches and players addressed what they thought about his decision to sit out the national anthem.
"We take very much pride in our relationship with the military as we went to Andrews Air Force Base the other day and everybody who was there stayed after and signed some autographs and a ton of respect for what goes on for our country with those people,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. “For three minutes for us to take our helmet off and stand up and give respect is how we treat it here with the Redskins.”
"I don't know Colin so I can't speak to his beliefs,” said Redskins defensive tackle Kedric Golston. “I stand out of respect for the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for the freedom that we enjoy."
"The media is going to always multiply negative things,” said Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams. “I think he explained himself why he did it and I think that should be enough.”
Veteran tight end Vernon Davis, who played with Kaepernick on the 49ers, said he didn’t remember his former teammate as being an outspoken voice on civil rights or social justice in their years together.
“I can’t recall that,” said Davis. “I don’t know. All I know is he was a wonderful teammate. Great person, hard worker. Every day he brought his lunch pail and ready to work. As far as the politics and social justice and all those things – no, I really didn’t get into that.”