Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem continued to be a hot topic in the sports world on Wednesday, again generating different points of view.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told The Associated Press that while he doesn’t agree with the 49ers backup quarterback’s actions, he supports Kaepernick’s right to protest.
“I don’t necessarily agree with what he is doing,” Goodell said. “I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.”
Kaepernick sparked national discourse and debate with his decision to kneel during the anthem before preseason games. Kaepernick is protesting police brutality, specifically against African-Americans, and the systematic oppression of people of color. His peaceful protests immediately drew both praise and ire from Americans of all walks of life, including military personnel and NFL players.
Teammate Eric Reid and the Seahawks’ Jeremy Lane have followed Kaepernick by not standing during the anthem.
Goodell said NFL players have a responsibility to get their messages across the right way.
“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” he said. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”
A day after calling Kaepernick “one of the biggest patriots out there,” Jets receiver Brandon Marshall again defended the quarterback’s right to peacefully protest. Marshall, who took his friend and Showtime colleague Boomer Esiason to task on Tuesday for lambasting Kaepernick publicly, described protests such as Kaepernick’s as part of a larger “civil rights movement.”
“I’m excited about the times we’re in because we’re talking about it,” Marshall said. “We’ll see what happens and how we’re going to affect change with these protests and some of the things that people are talking about.”
Jets owner Woody Johnson’s was asked on Wednesday what his reaction would be if one of his players took a stand against social and racial issues by taking a knee. Johnson said: “It wouldn’t be my first choice.”
“I think I would have a conversation with him at that point to try to find out what’s motivating that person to do that kind of protest,” said Johnson, who spoke with reporters at the team’s training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
John Tortorella, Team USA’s coach for the World Cup of Hockey, reiterated on Wednesday that any player that doesn’t stand for the anthem will sit for the game. Tortorella made his original comments on Tuesday.
“I’m not backing off,” said Tortorella, according to ESPN.com.
Tortorella has a son serving in Afghanistan for the U.S. Army Special Forces, according to ESPN.com. He went on to express his views on the American flag and anthem.
“We’re in a great country because we can express ourselves,” Tortorella told reporters. “And I am not against expressing yourselves. That’s what’s great about our country. We can do that. But when there are men and women that give their lives for their flag, for their anthem, have given their lives, continue to put themselves on the line with our services for our flag, for our anthem, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries for these people that give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there’s no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you’re trying to make a point.”
Meanwhile, Kaepernick said on Wednesday in Santa Clara, California, that he was heartened that President Barack Obama is showing support for him bringing social issues to the national forefront.
Kaepernick also announced on Instagram that he will donate the proceeds from his jersey sales to charity. Kaepernick’s jersey is the NFL’s top seller during his anthem protest.
“I wasn’t expecting my jersey sales to jump to number one because of this, but it shows the people’s belief that we can achieve justice and equality for ALL!” Kaepernick wrote. “The only way I can repay you for the support is to return the favor by donating all the proceeds I receive from my jersey sales back into the communities! I believe in the people, and WE can be the change!”
With The Associated Press