San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused a controversy with his decision to sit during the national anthem before Friday's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
Kaepernick, who is biracial, told NFL.com, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," Kaepernick said. "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Kaepernick, who is competing with Blaine Gabbert for the 49ers' starting quarterback job, said he is not concerned about any backlash to his decision.
"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," he said. "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 released a statement to Pro Football Talk:
The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. 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.
Many people took to social media to share their reaction to Kaepernick's controversial decision:
Idiot @Kaepernick7 earns nearly $20 million a year. He's so oppressed.
— Dan Gainor (@dangainor) August 27, 2016
.@Kaepernick7 is just a man doing what he THINKS is right. We, of course, have right to disagree. But we shouldn't want to see him destroyed
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) August 27, 2016
Person of color #ColinKaepernick signed a 6 year $114,000,000 NFL contract yet protests America's oppression of people of color.
— Carolina Girl (@carolinagirl63) August 27, 2016
Pretty good idea for Kaepernick to get used to sitting tho https://t.co/6U23mqK8kE
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) August 27, 2016
. @Kaepernick7 I hope you're able to overcome the hardships of a country that allows you to make millions of dollars to be bad at football.
— Faux John Madden (@FauxJohnMadden) August 27, 2016
— Bas (@FiendBassy) August 27, 2016
Kaepernick remains sitting during anthem in protest. With only 14 yards in passing, standing didn't do much either. https://t.co/hi5ZLTqaNs
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) August 27, 2016
Kudos to @Kaepernick7 for standing on his principles/what he believes and not wavering for a system that values his ability over his life
— bee. (@_Oh_Bee) August 27, 2016
Colin Kaepernick speaking up... Meanwhile that QB who dabbed all last season said America is past Racism
— EL FOOSAY (@SheHatesJacoby) August 27, 2016
You know what's more American than @Kaepernick7 not standing for the National Anthem? Having the freedom not to.
— Nathan Proffitt (@HighScoreNKP) August 27, 2016
@Kaepernick7 the flag that you disrespect, is the same flag that gives you the RIGHT to sit if you choose to. Be proactive, but with Respect
— Brad Ball (@Bullet546) August 27, 2016
I wish America was so mean to me it would pay me millions of dollars to be a bench warming punk. #ColinKaepernick
— Marisa Foster (@marisa_ann12) August 27, 2016
Let us know what you think in the comments!