Brandon Marshall took radio host Boomer Esiason to task, calling the former NFL quarterback “100 percent wrong” for his negative response to the national anthem protest by 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“This guy, he is one of the biggest patriots out there. Because he’s standing up for human rights,” the Jets’ receiver said Tuesday on WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton.”
Marshall made it clear that he’ll be standing for the anthem before the Jets’ regular-season opener against the Bengals Sunday, also the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But he also defended Kaepernick’s right to peacefully protest police brutality, specifically against African-Americans, and the systematic oppression of people of color.
“The only thing that I would love for everyone to really think about is: What does the American flag mean to them?” Marshall asked, hours before he and Esiason were set to discuss the issue on their weekly television gig, Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.”
“When I look at the American flag, I see a bunch of fights. You know how much we have overcome. When you look at it, the American flag is bigger than just one thing. And you have the civil rights movement, you have sex trafficking, you have immigration law. There’s so many different fights there. And we have to be aware that it’s bigger than one person and one thing.
“But then there are times when that one thing trumps all. When it comes to human rights, we really have to be careful. If you believe in one thing, if you believe in mental health, then that means you believe in cancer research. If you believe in cancer research, then you believe in raising awareness for HIV. If you believe in standing up for gay rights, then you believe in standing up for the minorities.”
In an exclusive interview with Newsday last week, Esiason ripped Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the anthem at a preseason game as “an embarrassment” and “about as disrespectful as any athlete has ever been.”
The reactions to Esiason’s comments were strong and swift on Twitter, with some agreeing and others disagreeing.
“This conversation is happening in every locker room across America and also across the world,” said Marshall, adding that he and his teammates have talked about it. “This is a huge topic and I’m glad that it’s being had.
“I think President Obama said it best — that’s his constitutional right. That was Colin’s right and that’s all the other guys’ right. But I do think this is very thought-provoking for all. I think that the message was a little diluted because of how much respect a lot of us have for those that served . . . (they) gave us our freedoms, fought for our freedoms. But the message was clear.”