Much of the talk surrounding the Packers and 49ers preseason game on Friday night was already centered around San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is coming off of a disastrous 2015 season that ended with him being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. After undergoing numerous surgeries in the offseason, fans were anticipating Kaepernick’s preseason debut to see if he could be in line for a bounce-back season.
However, the post-game story surrounding Kaepernick wasn’t about his on-field play; it was about his actions before the game even started.
During the national anthem, Kaepernick was spotted sitting on the 49ers’ sideline bench. Kaepernick remained seated on the bench for the entire duration of the Anthem.
Here is a zoomed-in picture a reporter was able to take from the press box:
After the game, Kaepernick met with reporters for his post-game press conference, but he also sat down for an exclusive interview and was questioned about his actions.
“I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and get away with murder.”
The 49ers’ front office also released a statement regarding their quarterback’s decision to sit during the anthem:
“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 and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Apparently, Kaepernick has done this once in the past, also before a preseason game. That was a one-time thing, but after hearing what Kaepernick said after Friday’s game, it will be intriguing to see if his protest carries into the regular season.