Colin Kaepernick watches from the sideline during a preseason game against the Houston Texans at Levi’s Stadium on Aug. 14. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Timing is curious, but Kap’s actions nothing new in NorCal

NEW YORK — A quarterback is in the hot seat because he refuses to relinquish his own seat when the national anthem is played. The Bay Area reacts — and overreacts. The sky is falling. At the least, jerseys are burning.

But back here, in New York, where the U.S. Open tennis championships have started and the only items involving a signal caller have to do with the Jets’ Geno Smith — “Bird brained QB boo-birds,” was the Daily News headline — they barely notice.

In Monday’s Daily News, there wasn’t a line about Colin Kaepernick. Same thing for The New York Times, which, according to the little box left of the front-page masthead, provides “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

Does that mean Kap is unfit?

The Post and Newsday did give Kap some attention, which, as I understand, is what Kap wants.

He also wants to be the Niners’ starter, but that isn’t going to happen for a long while, if ever.

The interweaving of events is fascinating, and a skeptic might say it’s anything but coincidental.

We have Colin Kaepernick the football player, who, through a combination of factors, including injury, has not been able to throw properly. We also have Colin Kaepernick the protester, who has stood up by sitting down, attempting to make us aware of events “in a country that suppresses black people and people of color.”

You don’t have to agree with Kaepernick to agree he has the right to say what he believes.

That’s America, isn’t it? Speak your mind. And there’s no place on Earth that should understand better than Northern California, epicenter of dissent. Mario Savio started in Berkeley, Bobby Seale in Oakland.

We’ve marched on bridges, up Telegraph Avenue, into BART cars.

We’ve shouted and sung and chained ourselves together, events that have caused far more inconvenience than an athlete remaining on his bottom when the Star Spangled Banner is performed.

Of course, football fans are used to inconvenience. They are not used to a member of their favorite team, one celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding, acting rebellious and unpatriotic. Especially an individual who has lost favor, as well as his starting role.

Kaepernick is extremely intelligent. He’s a thinker. What made him think of making his opinions public at this time is the confusing part. What or who was the persuasive influence?

Why didn’t Kap refuse to stand for the anthem four years ago, when he was leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl, when the accolades were flowing?

Did he just determine some Americans are oppressed?

His actions during the anthem certainly have precedent. Dion Waiters, with the Miami Heat, chooses not to stand. Carlos Delgado, the baseball player, wouldn’t stand. There was female basketball player Toni Smith of Manhanttanville College, who stood and turned her back to the American flag.

And now, suddenly, unexpectedly, Kaepernick is a member of that group — to be hailed or despised.

The 49ers and new coach Chip Kelly have done the proper thing by remaining neutral, which some may find surprising for Kelly, a crusty, no-nonsense sort.

“We recognize his right to do that,” Kelly said of Kap’s refusal to stand. “It’s not my right to tell him not to do something. That’s his right as a citizen.”

No one who plays pro football, the roughest of sports, lacks courage. Yet to go against the tide, as Kap is doing, requires a different type of courage

The question is why he waited until now to display it?

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and E-mail him at

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