Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Controversy
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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.
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 and NFL owners inferred that Kaepernick's protest was anti-American and anti-military, while others, including members of the military who sparked a #VeteransforKaepernick Twitter trend, defended Kaepernick's right to protest. Kaepernick himself stated that his actions were not anti-American or anti-military.
"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.
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.
Shortly after Kaepernick sat, photos of him practicing on August 12th with socks depicting police officers as pigs surfaced.
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 and Twitter.
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.
Kaepernick is arguing that the league has violated Section 1 of the latest collective bargaining agreement 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. 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.
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). 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 tweeted a GIF imagining white people angry at the decision, gaining over 960 retweets and 2,000 likes (shown below, left). Twitter user @Hoosiers1986 posted a tweet saying the honor should have gone to a member of the armed forces.
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.
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).
NFL</a> forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then <a href="https://twitter.com/Nike?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
Meanwhile, Twitter user @alteratyeshiva posted a similar video, gaining over 7,100 retweets and 16,000 likes within 24 hours (shown below).
Nike</a> Due to your support of C.K. in your coming adds, I as an American can no longer support your company. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/boycottNike?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#boycottNike</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IStandForOurFlag?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#IStandForOurFlag</a> <a href="https://t.co/5JxSMD8SSO">pic.twitter.com/5JxSMD8SSO</a></p>— AlterAtYeshiva (alteratyeshiva) September 4, 2018
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).
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, Twitter Moments, New York Magazine and others.
 Wikipedia – Colin Kaepernick
 Rush Limbaugh – My Response to Colin Kaepernick
 Maxim – COLIN KAEPERNICK BRANDED A 'TRAITOR' BY ANGRY NFL EXECS OVER NATIONAL ANTHEM PROTEST
 The Huffington Post – U.S. Veterans Are Coming To Colin Kaepernick’s Defense In Droves
 uproxx – Colin Kaepernick Clarifies The Point Of His Protest And Explains Why He’s Not Anti-American
 New York Post – Colin Kaepernick wore socks with ‘pig’ cops
 Twitter Moments – https://twitter.com/i/moments/770817688004235264
 NESN – http://nesn.com/2016/09/colin-kaepernick-twitter-reaction-internet-has-lots-of-support-for-qbs-protest/
 Facebook – randy moss trent dilfer
 Twitter – Randy Moss
 Twitter – @MikeFreemanNFL
 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement
 Deadspin – Colin Kaepernick Files Collusion Grievance Against NFL Owners
 GQ – Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced
 Twitter – @Darlene26811165
 Twitter – @Hoosiers1986
 Twitter – @Kaepernick7
 CNN – Nike's support for Colin Kaepernick protest has some destroying their shoes
 Twitter Moments – People are destroying their Nike products in response to Kaepernick ad
 New York Magazine – Nike Debuts Colin Kaepernick Ad, Conservatives Protest by Burning Their Own Gear
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