San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit for the national anthem as protest against police brutality (which he’s done the entire preseason but didn’t draw notice until last week) has drawn national debate, but Thursday night’s games demonstrated that the movement is spreading.
Amid criticism that Kaepernick’s actions were un-American, that he was ungrateful, and that he had disrespected the military, all eyes were on him Thursday night before the 49ers’s final preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, which had planned a “Salute to the Military” night. Kaepernick, true to his word, didn’t stand for the national anthem, but he kneeled—this time joined by teammate Eric Reid, who said of Kaepernick using his platform, “What’s more American than that?”
Prior to the game, Kaepernick and Reid had a lengthy discussion with Nate Boyer, a Green Beret who wrote an open letter to Kaepernick about sitting down for the national anthem, about how to get his message across without disrespecting the military and ended up on kneeling. Boyer, who was the guest of the 49ers Thursday night and stood right next to Kaepernick and Reid, posted about the meeting on Twitter afterwards, calling it a “Good talk.”
Thanks for the invite brother… Good talk. Let's just keep moving forward. This is what America should be all about pic.twitter.com/LgjPpjk173
— Nate Boyer (@NateBoyer37) September 2, 2016
— Chris Law (@ChrisLaw) September 2, 2016
“We were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country but keep the focus on what the issues really are,” Kaepernick told reporters after the game. “As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee because there are issues that still need to be addressed and there was also a way to show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country.”
Kaepernick’s protest received support from some members of the military earlier in the week. Throughout the game he tried to show that his issues weren’t with his military. He stood and cheered during “God Bless America,” and clapped when military members were honored at the game. Afterward, he announced that he was donating his first $1 million in earnings to “organizations that work with communities.”
Kaepernick says he’s donating the first $1 million this season he makes this year to organizations that work with communities.
— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) September 2, 2016
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat down for the national anthem before the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, who said he did it as a show of support for Kaepernick.
“I wasn’t trying to say anything, just standing behind Kaepernick,” Lane told reporters.
— NFL GameDay (@NFLGameDay) September 2, 2016
H/T CBS Sports