49ers Quarterback Refuses to Stand During National Anthem: I'm Not Going to 'Show Pride in Country That Oppresses Black People'

Colin Kaepernick stayed seated during the national anthem in protest of a 'country that oppresses black people'

Photo: Ben Margot/AP

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made a controversial decision before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in Santa Clara, California, Friday night.

Frustrated by the headline-making racial tension plaguing the country, the 28-year-old athlete decided to take a stand by not standing up during the national anthem.

Instead, while the “Star-Spangled Banner” played, he remained seated at Levi’s Stadium – where the 49ers were set to play against his hometown team, the Green Bay Packers.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media.

“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he continued. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick has been outspoken on social media about similar issues, providing his 845,000 Twitter followers and 1.3 million Instagram followers with daily updates about the racial injustices.

While his decision not to participate in the tradition caused many to criticize the player, the NFL does not require players stand for the anthem, NFL Media reports.

“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he explained. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me – I know that I stood up for what is right.”

The 49ers also supported his move in a statement, according to ESPN.

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pregame ceremony,” the team said in a statement. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens.

“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.”

Kaepernick has not stood for any of the 49ers three previous preseason games, NBC Sports reports.

Friday’s gesture was noticed, likely, as it was the first time Kaepernick was wearing his 49ers uniform. He previously sat the other two games out due to a shoulder injury which has required multiple surgeries.

Kaepernick is currently competing with Blaine Gabbert for the 49ers starting gig.

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This isn’t the first controversy around how an athlete behaves during the playing of the national anthem. Gold medalist Gabby Douglas found herself in hot water after not putting her hand over her heart during the Final Five‘s team medal ceremony.

“I always try to stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played,” Douglas responded afterwards. “I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone.”

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