Former Green Beret says 49ers QB hasn’t built any bridges
In 2016, everyone developed an opinion about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
That’s what happens when someone playing the most visible position for one of the most notorious teams in the country’s most profitable pro sports league decides to protest the national anthem for an entire season.
Hyperbole reigned when it came to Kaepernick. To some, he’s a borderline traitor, turning his back on the American way of life and those who’ve fought for the country’s freedom. To others, he’s a civil-rights leader, demanding more from a nation with deep scars.
That dichotomy has played out in NFL stadiums throughout the country, Kaepernick said Tuesday at practice.
“Atlanta was somewhere where I had a lot of support, a lot of people saying they agree with what I’m doing, support it and are happy that I did it and to keep going and to stay strong,” he said.
But it hasn’t been warm welcomes and encouragement.
“Buffalo in particular was one where that was very evident,” Kaepernick said. “So, it shows the different cultures and different beliefs throughout this country and it also makes it very evident that there’s a difference in perspective between white America and black America.”
Kaepernick got his first start of the season against the Bills in Week 6. Before the game, fans chanted “USA” before the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, according to ESPN. At least one reportedly threw a bottle at the QB. Others sold t-shirts with Kaepernick’s likeness in crosshairs accompanied by the words “Wanted: Notorious Disgrace to America” and played “Tackle the Muslim,” according to the NY Post.
(There were also fans in the parking lot showing reverence for Kaepernick’s message, but they received far less attention.)
Kaepernick said Buffalo stood out because of the volume of the fans’ ire.
“What I heard, things that I saw after the fact as far as in the parking lot, t-shirts, all of those things,” he said. “It was very evident that this was something that they don’t agree with, which to me I don’t understand.”
Kaepernick has been the focal point of a national discussion since it was noticed he was sitting out the anthem in the second week of the preseason.
At the time, he met with former Seattle Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer, who tried out for the 49ers at one point and was a Green Beret before pursuing his NFL dreams.
Boyer said the conversation was helpful and was important to driving dialogue forward. But, as he was interviewed by the Washington Post about the sports figures of the year, Boyer said he’s been disappointed in Kaepernick’s lack of communication since.
“I haven’t seen a bridge built,” Boyer said in the piece. “And the only way we’re going to get anywhere, we have to build bridges. You can’t just shout and complain and expect everyone else to fix the problem. That doesn’t fix the problem. It hasn’t ever.”
The Niners play the Rams this week in Los Angeles, where Kaepernick is unsure how he’ll be received.
“It’ll depend on the crowd that’s there that day,” he said. “So, we’ll wait and see.”