Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests, but has now been joined by players from around the league.
The most noteworthy part of a national anthem before a NFL game used to be a great singing performance or a riveting flyover. Colin Kaepernick changed that. All eyes during the anthem are now on the San Francisco 49ers quarterback and other NFL players who have joined him in sitting or kneeling during the anthem.
Kaepernick began sitting during the national anthem this preseason. A silent protest to show support for people of color who are being oppressed in the United States, and to take a stand against police brutality. It’s an effort to use his voice and his position as a NFL player to effect change for the people who are suffering, and don’t have the same ability to create significant change.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said, via NFL.com. “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.”
Initially, Kaepernick was alone in his protest. And unnoticed. His protest didn’t come to light and gain national attention until the third preseason game. Since then, he’s continued on with his protest while being joined by several other players from around the NFL.
Here is a complete timeline of Kaepernick’s protest and every NFL player who has followed suit.
Aug. 14 and Aug. 20 — Kaepernick goes unnoticed while sitting during the anthem
Kaepernick made headlines when he sat during the 49ers third preseason game, but he also sat during the first two games, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Kaepernick wasn’t in uniform and didn’t play during the first two games.
Aug. 26 — Kaepernick gains attention for his protest
There was no grand unveiling of Kaepernick’s sitting protest. Instead, Jennifer Lee Chan of Niners Nation tweeted out a photo of the anthem, unrelated to Kaepernick sitting. The story gained national attention later that night and the 49ers released a statement confirming Kaepernick sat for the anthem.
Kaepernick told the media after the game he sat because of the oppression of people of color and ongoing issues with police brutality.
Aug. 28 — Kaepernick expands on his reasoning for the protest
Kaepernick met with the media two days after the game and for the first time since the protest gained national attention. He reiterated that he was acting to give a voice to people who didn’t have one.
“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
“This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”
“It’s something that can unify this team. It’s something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from.”
“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought have for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.”
Sept. 1 — Kaepernick takes a knee during the anthem and is joined by teammate Eric Reid
For the first time during his protest, Kaepernick wasn’t alone. San Francisco safety Eric Reid expressed support for Kaepernick prior to the game and showed it during the anthem by joining him in taking a knee.
KPIX 5 | CBS San Francisco
From the time the protest gained attention, Kaepernick reiterated he was not doing it to be anti-American or anti-military or to disrespect troops. He was doing it to bring serious social issues to light and try to evoke change. That stance led to him slightly adjusting the protest. Kaepernick met with former Green Beret and brief NFL long snapper Nate Boyer, and after the discussion decided to shift from sitting to taking a knee during the anthem.
“We were talking to [Boyer] about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are. And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee. Because there are issues that still need to be addressed and it was also a way to show more respect to the men and women who fight for this country.”
After the game, Kaepernick announced a plan to donate $1 million to the charities that focus on racial issues.
Sept. 1 — Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks sits during the national anthem
Lane became the first non-teammate to join Kaepernick in protest. He sat on the bench prior to the national anthem in Oakland, just minutes after Kaepernick and Reid took a knee during the anthem in San Diego.
“I wasn’t trying to say anything. Just standing behind Kaepernick,” Lane said following the game. He added that he would keep doing it until he felt like justice was served.
Sept. 9 — Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall takes a knee during the national anthem at the NFL regular season opener
Marshall became the first player to take a knee or sit during the anthem prior to a regular season game. He was a college teammate of Kaepernick at the University of Nevada. Like Kaepernick, Marshall said it was about social change.
“I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America,” Marshall said, according to the Denver Post. “I’m against social injustice.
“Kaep, he’s using his platform how he wants to use it, to reach the masses,” Marshall said. “We have freedom of speech. But then we use our platform, and we get bashed for it. It’s almost like they want us to only go with the grain. And once we go against the grain, it’s an issue.”
Sept. 11 — Seahawks, Dolphins, Chiefs and Patriots players demonstrate during nation anthem
The first Sunday of the NFL season took place on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. This made the national anthem ceremonies on that day particularly emotional. Four Dolphins players — running back Arian Foster, safety Michael Thomas, wide receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Jelani Jenkins — took a knee during the anthem after standing up for a 9/11 acknowledgment.
The Dolphins released a statement that was respectful of their players’ actions.
No Seahawks players took a knee during the anthem, but the entire team did link arms as a way of honoring the flag and continuing the conversation that Kaepernick started.
The Kansas Chiefs locked arms before kickoff of their game with the San Diego Chargers. Cornerback Marcus Peters held up a fist, saying he supported Kaepernick’s efforts to raise awareness to the justice system.
— Jeff Rosen (@jeff_rosen88) September 11, 2016
Prior to Sunday Night Football, Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty also raised their fists after the national anthem.
Martellus Bennett, whose brother Michael plays for the Seahawks, also had a hand in the Seahawks’ show of unity:
Martellus discussed decision to raise fist during anthem. Also said he wrote the press release for Seahawks re: their anthem tribute.
— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) September 12, 2016