Sunday 18 March 2018 / 04:37 PM


Colin Kaepernick jumped into a hot bowl of controversy after his refusal to stand during the national anthem last Friday night before the San Francisco 49ers’ pre-season loss to Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium.

“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 NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game.

“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 getting away with murder.”

To start with, when is it ever a good idea to tackle any civil issue by blatantly disrespecting the national anthem that thousands have given their life to protect? I’m not villainizing Kaepernick here – I was actually a fan of the 49ers quarterback – but these sort of actions don’t show the integrity and intelligence of someone that should be leading a team as a figure that people look up to.

What really gets under people’s skin is that Kaepernick is getting paid millions of dollars to play a game, while other 28-year-olds are overseas dodging bullets and IEDs.

Think of the great Muhammad Ali refusing to enter the draft to give his life for a country that without a doubt had much more serious civil rights issues at the time. This is a respectable move. To refuse to stand for a national anthem while you collect your million-dollar checks is just plain weak.

This isn’t a racial thing, it’s a matter of pride in your country. Although his Twitter account is a cesspool of anti-white, anti-police, inflammatory tweets and retweets, his heart is in the right place. His brain, however, isn’t.

Kaepernick’s actions aren’t going to unify a country to agree on a civil rights issue, they are going to unify a country to agree that the flag should be respected.

“I think, personally, the flag is the flag,” the New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said.

“Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things like that. You’ve got to respect the flag and stand up with your teammates.”

To some degree, I can understand the frustration Kaepernick is going through. The type of stories breaking through the media are enough to make any human rights advocate livid. I respect Kaepernick’s rebellious spirit, but this is just not the right way to go about making a stand.

I am in no place to judge Kaepernick’s upbringing and he is his own man, but it’s disheartening to see a world-class athlete put himself in a bad position because he can’t channel his frustration in an effective way. He’s a 28-year-old playing football for a living – you can’t really blame him for not having the political polish or PR strategy the nation expects of him. But here are some elementary rules, one of the being: don’t blatantly disrespect the flag.

In a way it’s admirable that Kaepernick, along with other athletes such as the NBA’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, is willing to risk his endorsements to use his platform to raise awareness towards very important issues.

Do what you want to do, Colin, but you made your bed. When your sponsors start pulling their funding and your contract doesn’t get renewed, maybe then you’ll realize that it’s going to take much more than sitting down during the national anthem or popping off on Twitter to make a statement worth applauding. Don’t forget the long list of NFL players and coaches that have had family serve in the military, either.

You just turned some co-workers into enemies.

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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