When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the field during Sunday's matchup with the Buffalo Bills, the New Era Field (formerly Ralph Wilson Stadium) crowd showered him with boos. Moments earlier, when he kneeled for the national anthem, the New Era Field crowd showered him with boos. Even before that, when he exited the tunnel to join his teammates, the New Era Field crowd showered him with boos.
It's needless to say that Kaepernick did not receive a warm welcome from Bills fans on Sunday. The Kaepernick hate didn't wait until the quarterback was on the field either. Prior to the game, Bills fans showed their displeasure with the 49ers quarterback and his nation anthem protest against violence in America. One group of fans built their own representation of Kaepernick out of a freestanding punching bag and then yelled, "Tackle the Muslim," encouraging people to attack it.
Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated reported that one man passing the scene yelled out, "This just makes Buffalo look bad!"
Looking to make a quick buck out of the situation, parking lot merchants sold T-shirts that read, "Wanted," and had a picture of Kaepernick with crosshairs over it. Under the photo read, "Notorious Disgrace to America."
Shirts with a rifle scope trained on Colin Kaepernick selling for $10 outside of Ralph Wilson stadium. pic.twitter.com/bSuxF3G5qq— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) October 16, 2016
Another shirt read, "Shut up and stand up," with a depiction of Kaepernick kneeling just below. It is important to note that these were street merchants selling the shirts and they are in no way affiliated with the Bills organization or the NFL.
As Kaepernick exited the field at the end of the first half, a fan reportedly threw a beer bottle at the quarterback's head. "If they did, they don't have very good aim," said Kaepernick as he laughed when asked about it. "I had some Bills fans come up before the game to say they support me so I think it all depends on who the person is. But at the end of the day, I'm going to continue to fight for what I'm fighting for."
"To be honest, I was focused on football so I wasn't really listening to what was going on in the stands," Kaepernick continued during his postgame press conference.
Kaepernick was asked if his message holds more weight now that he is the team's starter. "I think the message carries weight because people realize what's happening and what's going on and that it is something that needs to be addressed," Kaepernick answered. "There's people's lives being taken and people's lives being affected by this on a daily basis. It is something that more and more conversations are happening that need to happen so ultimately we can address this issue and create change."
Head coach Chip Kelly would not commit to Kaepernick remaining the team's starter. "Yeah, we'll see," Kelly said when asked if Kaepernick would start next weekend's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While Kaepernick played well during the first half, earning a 144.1 passer rating, he faltered during the second half earning a 39.6 passer rating. "I thought he was okay," Kelly said regarding Kaepernick's performance against the Bills. "There are some positives that you can really build on with him that he did. I thought he extended some drives, keeping plays alive with his legs. He did a good job so it was a pretty good situation in terms of him running the football."
Kaepernick was asked how he responds to the pro-USA chants from the crowd just prior to kick off and the view that what he is could is un-American. "I don't understand what is un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality that this country says it stands for," Kaepernick answered. "To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to standards that it says it lives by."