Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Controversy

Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Controversy

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Updated Sep 16, 2018 at 03:51AM EDT by Y F.

Added Sep 02, 2016 at 04:55PM EDT by Adam.

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Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Controversy refers to the discussion surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem at football games to protest racism and police brutality in America.[1]


On August 26th, 2016, San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the singing of the American national anthem before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. After the game, Kaepernick stated:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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."


Kaepernick's actions sparked a national debate on whether a player needs to stand for the national anthem. Reactions to Kaepernick's actions ranged from angry or supportive. Critics including Rush Limbaugh[2] and NFL owners[3] inferred that Kaepernick's protest was anti-American and anti-military, while others, including members of the military who sparked a #VeteransforKaepernick Twitter trend,[4][7] defended Kaepernick's right to protest. Kaepernick himself stated that his actions were not anti-American or anti-military.[5]

"I think it’s a misunderstanding. The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti men and women of the military, and that’s not the case at all. I realize that men and women of the military put themselves in harm’s way for my freedoms of speech and my freedom in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee. I have the utmost respect for them. I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.

“It’s something to make sure that I wasn’t just talking about something, but being involved and actively trying to make a change in these communities. I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do. I have to help these people. 22 military vets a day commit suicide, but this country will let the vets go and fight the war for them but when they come back they won’t do anything to try to help him. That’s another issue. These issues need to be addressed.”

Kaepernick refused to stand again on September 1st, 2016, in a game against the San Diego Chargers, and he was joined by teammate Eric Reid.

Online Response

Twitter response has been mostly positive. In addition to the #VeteransforKaepernick hashtag, other Twitter users have remarked on the civility of Kaepernick's protest and how criticism is unfair.[8]

Charlotte. * 와 Follow @charlotteirene8 White people: "Black people should protest peacefully!" "Black person sits quietly during national anthem* White people: "No not like that." RETWEETS LIKES 201浬戺 80,368130,040

Socks Controversy

Shortly after Kaepernick sat, photos of him practicing on August 12th with socks depicting police officers as pigs surfaced.[6]

Randy Moss Reacts to Trent Dilfer

On September, 11th, 2016, ESPN commentator and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer criticized Colin Kaepernick for "putting himself above his team," while commentator and former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss looked on.

The intensity of Moss' expression during Dilfer's comments lead Twitter users to joke that Moss was barely concealing seething rage. The following day, "Randy Moss" was trending on Facebook[9] and Twitter.[10]

Ché @elCoolChe * Follow Randy Moss capturing how we all look when some1 whitesplains NALPERNICKS CUNTOD KC MESSAGE underwent surgery for torm ACL in February FL oms. Houston Zito @_Zeets Follow This picture is a perfect representation of race relations in America Fleece Jacket Monroe @InsertDaveHere * Follow Randy Moss: "Boy you lucky it's my first day otherwise l'd smack yo scalp clean off" EPERNICKs KC MESSAGE underwent surgery for torm ACL in February FL orts SHARP

Collusion Grievance

On October 15th, 2017, Mike Freeman of SB Nation tweeted that Kaepernick had filed a grievance against NFL owners for collusion to keep him out of the NFL.[11]

mike freeman @mikefreemanNFL FIT Follow I am told that @Kaepernick7 has filed a grievance under the CBA for collusion against the owners. If accurate, this is huge. 3:58 PM-15 Oct 2017

Kaepernick is arguing that the league has violated Section 1 of the latest collective bargaining agreement[12] between players and owners, which reads:

Section 1. Prohibited Conduct:
(a) No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making as follows:
(i) whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player;
(ii) whether to submit or not to submit an Offer Sheet to any Restricted Free Agent;
(iii) whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player;
(iv) whether to exercise or not to exercise a Right of First Refusal; or
(v) concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to any player for inclusion, or included, in a Player Contract.
(b) Any approval or disapproval of a player’s contract by the Commissioner, or any communication thereof, timely notice of which is provided to the NFLPA, cannot be the basis of any claim of collusion. The NFLPA or the affected Player shall have the right to appeal the Commissioner’s disapproval of such player contract to the System Arbitrator, pursuant to Article 15 and Article 14.

Kaepernick will have to prove collusion with evidence, which could prove difficult.[13] Later that day, Kaepernick's lawyer, Mark Geragos, released a statement in which he stated that NFL owners imitated Kapernick's protest several weeks prior but refused to sign him because of his protest, and that the grievance was filed to prevent owners from colluding against any player for exercising his right to protest.

We can confirm that this morning we filed a grievance under the CBA on behalf of Colin Kaepernick. This was done only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives. If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest--which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago--should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance. Colin Kaepernick's goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.

GQ Citizen of the Year

On November 13th, 2017, GQ Magazine named Colin Kaepernick its "Citizen of the Year" and featured him on the cover of the magazine (shown below).[14] In the piece, GQ states that Kaepernick voiced his intentions to reclaim the narrative of his protest, which the piece argues has shifted from his original intent to protest police brutality especially against the black community to a political issue that drew the ire of President Trump, inspired the #TakeAKnee protests, and led some to boycott the NFL. In the piece, GQ equates Kaepernick's protest to Muhammad Ali's protest of the Vietnam War which led to his being blackballed from boxing for three years. The piece also quotes several black activists and entertainers about what Kaepernick's protest means to them.


Reaction to the cover on Twitter was divided, as some supported GQ's decision while others reiterated arguments against Kaepernick. Twitter user @Darlene26811165[15] tweeted a GIF imagining white people angry at the decision, gaining over 960 retweets and 2,000 likes (shown below, left). Twitter user @Hoosiers1986[16] posted a tweet saying the honor should have gone to a member of the armed forces.

D.T. @Darlene26811165 Follow Racist White People right now when they see Kaepernick got Citizen of the Year for 2017 GIF Bradley Scott @Hoosiers1986 Follow In further proof that Libs find Political Correctness more important than those who Protect our Freedom, I present to you GQ's Citizen of the Year: Colin Kaepernick! Screw GQ I'lI ALWAYS find our military heroes MORE FASHIONABLE than those who disrespect our country! THE NEW Colin Kae

Nike Ad Campaign

On September 3rd, 2018, Nike unveiled that they had made Kaepernick the face of their "Just Do It" campaign. Kaepernick tweeted the advertisement that day, gaining over 244,000 retweets and 587,000 likes.[17]

Believe in something Even if it means sacrificing everything Just do it.

Shortly after Kaepernick tweeted the photo, people angry at the decision posted videos and photographs of themselves destroying their Nike attire in protest. One of the first notable people to post such a protest was country singer John Rich, who tweeted a photograph of his sound technician's socks with the Nike label cut off. The tweet gained over 9,600 retweets and 27,000 likes (shown below, top). Additionally, several Twitter users posted videos of themselves burning their Nike attire. For example, user @sclancy79 posted such a video and gained over 18,000 retweets and 40,000 likes (shown below, bottom).

John Rich @johnrich Follow Our Soundman just cut the Nike swoosh off his socks. Former marine. Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions. 8:02 PM 3 Sep 2018

Meanwhile, Twitter user @alteratyeshiva posted a similar video, gaining over 7,100 retweets and 16,000 likes within 24 hours (shown below).

Supporters of Kaepernick and Nike found the backlash amusing, leading to several Trigger the Libs jokes as well as comparisons to the Keurig Boycott in which conservatives destroyed their Keurig machines after the company pulled their advertisements from Sean Hannity when the pundit defended Roy Moore. User @inihelene made a "trigger the libs" joke and gained over 60 retweets and 500 likes (shown below, left). User @samstein made a joke comparing the Nike protests to the Keurig protests, gaining over 110 retweets and 1,000 likes (shown below, right).

Ines @inihelene Follow Destroying all of my treasured belongings to trigger the libs. I can't wait to see the uncaring looks on their triggered faces when lburn everything l own in a big bontire. GIF 8:53 AM-4 Sep 2018 Sam Stein Follow @samstein I don't have the energy to destroy my Nikes this morning because l threw my Keurig out of the window after they pulled their ads from Hannity and I haven't had coffee since 9:36 AM -4 Sep 2018

Others tweeted their support of Kaepernick and Nike. Former CIA director John Brennan tweeted his support of Kaepernick, gaining over 26,000 retweets and 101,000 likes (shown below, left). User @Tariqnasheed praised Nike for supporting a black athlete after having profited off the image of black athletes for much of their existence, gaining over 2,100 retweets and 6,100 likes (shown below, right). In the coming days, the protests were covered on CNN,[18] Twitter Moments,[19] New York Magazine[20] and others.

John O. Brennan @JohnBrennan Follow Colin Kaepernick drew our collective attention to the problem of continued racial injustice in America. He did so not to disrespect our flag but to give meaning to the words of the preamble of our Constitution -"in order to form a more perfect union." Well done, Colin, well done. Colin Kaepernick@Kaepernick7 Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDolt Tariq Nasheed @tariqnasheed Follow ) ﹀ Nike is definitely on the right side of history by having Colin Kaepernick in their neww #JustDolt campaign. Nike has made BILLIONS of dollars off the image of Black athletes, and it's only right for them to show support for Black athletes who stand up for justice 10:25 PM- 3 Sep 2018

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