clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bears, NFL react to Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has not stood for the National Anthem this preseason out of protest. (AP)

Danny Trevathan didn’t endorse Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem, but supported his right to take a stance.

“He did what he felt he had to do, you know,” the Bears’ inside linebacker said Monday at Halas Hall. “He has the right to do that.”

The 49ers quarterback was first noticed sitting during the anthem before Friday’s game, though he said he’d done that all preseason. Afterward, he said he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Sunday, he said that only when “this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to” would he resume standing.

“I believe if you want to do it, you should do it, but you have to know what you stand for and give it what you got,” Trevathan said. “You know, a lot of people see things differently.

“I know what my job is here, I know my responsibilities are and I know how I feel about certain things. I’m here right now to win games and that’s really my focus. So, you know the anthem is not something that I would avoid or anything like that. But at the same time, I’m here to focus on winning games, so that’s the bottom line for me.”

Outside linebacker Willie Young said athletes use their platform to deliver messages all the time, even if it’s simply promoting charity causes. He didn’t seem eager to discuss the Kaepernick issue, though, claiming he hadn’t heard about the protest despite its ubiquity in the news over the weekend.

“I’ve got too much going on right here at Halas Hall to worry about what he’s got going on,” he said.

Even though he hasn’t spoken to the media since being diagnosed with a shoulder injury Aug. 19, Kyle Long posted his feelings on Twitter.

“I will always stand for the national anthem,” the guard wrote. “I will also acknowledge the fact that racism is real. People deal with it every day. It’s wrong.”

Kaepernick, who is biracial, was raised by white adoptive parents. He said Sunday his protest wasn’t a result of him being “put down” personally, though he said he’d been mistreated in the past. He spoke out against police brutality, saying his stance was not a dig at the military.

Reaction to the protest spread through the league Monday. Panthers coach Ron Rivera, whose father spent 32 years in the Army, said Kaepernick’s stance could be considered offensive, depending on your outlook. However, America supports such protest.

“It has to be personal for each person,” Rivera, who played and served as an assistant coach for the Bears, told reporters at Panthers practice. “Again, that’s what this country’s based on, is freedoms, and you have the right to do what you want to do, because that’s what those men and women fought for and sacrificed for. And we should all be grateful for that.”

Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters in Ann Arbor, Mich., that he acknowledged Kaepernick’s right to sit but did not “respect the motivation or the action.” Later, on Twitter, he backpedaled, saying that “I support Colin’s motivation.”

His brother John praised Kaepernick’s character and upbringing, having met him through Jim.

“Voltaire so eloquently stated, ‘I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend it until death your right to say it,'” he told reporters at Ravens practice. “That’s a principle that our country is founded on. I don’t think you cannot deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anybody else’s opinion.”