Colin Kaepernick sparked a controversy last week when it was noticed that he was sitting down when the National Anthem was played prior to the start of the game. He explained his reasoning being to protest what he deemed to be racial profiling in law enforcement.
At the time Kaepernick was alone in this, which garnered a great deal of personal attacks from those opposed to his method of protest. He also said he would continue to refuse to stand for the anthem until he felt like conditions had changed. That raised the question of whether any other NFL players would join him in his silent protest. The answer was yes.
Kaepernick was joined by teammate Eric Reid in not standing for the National Anthem Thursday night in San Diego. Only this time, he knelt down instead of sitting, to be more respectful — likely after taking advice from former NFL hopeful and Army Special Forces, Nate Boyer.
Simultaneously, up state in Oakland, there was another player who stood with them (so to speak). Seahawks cornerback, Jeremy Lane sat on the bench during the playing of the National Anthem prior to their game against the Raiders.
“I wasn’t trying to say anything, just standing behind [Colin] Kaepernick,” said Lane.
Lane said he and Kaepernick have no relationship it wasn’t coordinated in any way. He added that this will not be a one time thing.
“Right now I don’t think it accomplished anything for me, or the cause,” Lane added. “But that’s the plan.”
“I plan to keep on doing it. Until I feel like justice has been served.”
Lane has the support of his head coach in his decision to sit.
“It’s totally an individual decision,” said Pete Carroll. “This is a very interesting issue that we’re dealing with right now. The team has been working at it. We’re in the process of communicating about what’s up right now. That was an individual thing. But I’m really proud of the progress we’re making in conversation and I look forward to continuing with our guys.”
Along with the message Kaepernick was trying to put across, another conversation was started about freedom of speech and freedom of expression that holds value in of its own.
“That’s our country.” Said Lane’s Seahawks teammate, Richard Sherman. “You’re free to say what you want, and express yourself in a way that you feel, in line with what you believe and that’s what he [Lane] did. He sat down to make a point.”
“Obviously Jeremy [Lane] doesn’t stand against those who sacrifice for this country, or anything like that. He obviously understands the guys who have made the greatest sacrifice for our country and freedom, but he also understands the oppression that our country has put African-Americans and minorities through for years, so yeah I think that is something that they are trying to get recognized, and looking for people to make a change too. Even with all of this, you are getting African American Veterans reaching out and saying that they have been discriminated against even in the service, so I think this discussion that Colin [Kaepernick] started is going to evolve into something deeper.”
Many of those who oppose the reasoning behind Kaepernick’s protest have attemptd to use individual criticisms as a way of drowning out his message. Whether it be his character or upbringing or play on the field. And of course claiming he was disrespecting the military (he wasn’t).
The hope is now that with other players joining in is that the conversation will shift back to the issue behind the protest.