Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports



San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been protesting what he calls "unjust" actions in this country by refusing to stand during the pre-game National Anthem. And his protest will continue. "I'll continue to sit," said Kaepernick on Sunday. "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 like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."

In our latest Round Table, our team of writers was asked to share their thoughts on the Kaepernick controversy that has been dominating the headlines in recent days – and will likely continue to do so.

Jesse Dumas


Initial thought is I have a knee-jerk reaction to disregard the opinions of athletes and celebrities when it comes to social issues and/or politics. But I do think that Kaepernick is making a thoughtful statement with what he may perceive as a waning opportunity to use his celebrity. I definitely don't think he's focused or necessarily motivated to play football at this point in his life, but he has every right to do what he's doing and his perception of what's wrong in this country is one that is being communicated in far more destructive and controversial ways all the time, at least this is a civil and peaceful act of protest. Anyone who prescribes more meaning and ceremony to our national anthem is entitled to do so, but just as with religion, they have no right nor point to forcing that feeling on somebody else. I'm not crazy at how he's expressing himself, but I must acknowledge it's effectiveness. My only real critique of what he's doing would be that he's given no indication of what specifically needs to change for him to feel differently. He knew people would get upset by his refusal to stand for the anthem, he did it for a reason, so what's the resolution to that reason? Nobody's expecting a political roadmap from Blaine Gabbert's backup, but at this point in the conversation it would be refreshing for someone to take it a step further.

Zain Naqvi


Part of being a citizen of this country is exercising freedom of speech. Kaepernick is exercising that right. From a humanitarian standpoint, his heart is in the right place. From a respect standpoint, he needs to understand that the United States and the citizens of the United States are like a team. There will be people on the team that don't get along with each other, but those differences must be put aside for the team to grow. Unfortunately, Kaepernick's actions are forcing people to choose a side, which is creating a larger divide.

Colin Kaepernick is paid to throw a football. That's his job. He's a quarterback for the National Football League. This is going to become a huge distraction for him because it's something other than football that he has to focus on now. Moreover, this has become a distraction to the team because they know that the entire country has put the focus on the 49ers (fairly or unfairly) on account of 1 player's actions. Personally, I think he's committed career suicide, not because of the cause, but by the way he's bringing attention to it.

Some perspective is also needed because if Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers would have spoken out about a political issue, they probably would have garnered a little more respect based off of their current start status among their peers, fans and the media. However, Kaepernick's star has faded and he made the mistake of painting all police officers with a broad brush when it's a very small minority that are misbehaving.

There are few things more sacred to any country than its flag and national anthem. While what Kaepernick is saying is true - there is an abundance of violence involving law enforcement - taking such a stand the way that he did ends up dividing the country more. This might be one of those situations where Kaepernick looks back on in the future and says "I wish I had handled this differently." If his choice is that being a social activist is more important than being a good quarterback, then he's going to have to live with whatever (good or bad) comes with that decision.

Julio Cortez-AP


Stewart M. Cockrell


As the proud son of a proud veteran, here are my thoughts on the situation.

I have always viewed our National Anthem and our flag with a high reverence. I think they are two of this country's most endearing symbols that should be shown the respect that it is deserved and earned. Too many men and women have lived, served, and died in its honor for us to not show it this respect. That being said, I am also an American that strongly believes in my 1st Amendment rights, as well as the 1st Amendment rights of my fellow Americans. The thing about free speech is that it isn't always pretty. Colin will have to live with the backlash (and support) he is receiving at the current moment and into the future.

Do I have a problem with Kaepernick not standing during the National Anthem? Not really to be honest. It is his right as a red blooded American not too. And in a way, it pays just as much tribute to those that have fought and died for his right to do so. Frankly, if you are like me and have attended a major sporting event in the last ten years, you will notice a lot more disrespect from the fans in attendance during the playing of the National Anthem, but that is a topic for another time. Would most of us like to see him make a statement in a different way? Of course we would. But then again, free speech isn't always pretty is it?

I'm on record as saying I'm not a huge fan of Colin Kaepernick the player, but in this instance I can be a fan of Colin Kaepernick the American. For those of you that say he should shut up and play football, could the same be said to those of you burning his jersey in protest? Why not shut up and go back to your job too? It is your right to do so I suppose, even if it comes off as childish, but then again, free speech isn't always pretty is it?

Before you go running him out of the country for being American enough to exercise his 1st Amendment rights, maybe we should take a moment to be thankful that he has this right and we have the right to support or criticize his actions as we see fit. Seems to me that is something to hold in in pretty high reverence as well.

A.J. Bolino


In my estimation, the debate over what Colin Kaepernick did before last Friday night's game and what he had to say afterward can be boiled down to one question: is this the land of the free?

As a prior service US Marine, I have a unique perspective on this. To me, the National Anthem and the National Ensign are to be revered. To me, both are representative of the courage and selflessness of those who have answered the call to service. My perspective on both is a reflection of my life experience, my time in the Corps, and my view of the Country. But that doesn't really answer the question posed earlier, does it? Is this the land of the free? Because that is the heart of this issue...freedom.

Freedom is tricky business, kids. Real freedom is celebrating the right of every single person in this country to speak their mind, to worship as they see fit, and to peacefully protest that which they feel is unjust. We may not always agree with what our fellow Americans have to say...but they are free do to so.

When I was sworn in at MEPS in Oakland, the oath that all present were asked to recite went as follows: "I, Armand Bolino, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Some of you are upset at Kap for showing disrespect to the men and women who have stood in service to this country. I ask you to look at it this way: the men and women who stand in service to this country have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. That document guarantees Colin Kaepernick the right to peaceful protest. He's doing that which every single American has the right to do, and nothing more.

Do I agree with Kap's actions? No, though I believe his position has merit. For my own reasons, I hold the Ensign and the Anthem in very high regard. But make no mistake...though I do not approve his actions, I would fight to guarantee his freedom...because the moment we deny freedom to one, the freedom of all has been compromised. Having sworn to uphold and defend the law of the land, I can do nothing but acknowledge a fellow American's right to peaceful protest. And so should you.

Alex Pedregon


Ray Woodson from KNBR said it best when he tweeted "I'm way more offended by the treatment of minorities in this country than some guy not standing."

That quote puts Kap's actions in their proper perspective.

He clearly isn't the ideal spokesperson for this issue given 1.) his polarizing personality and (in my opinion) 2.) his inability to clearly articulate the complexities of the cause he's bringing attention to.

But make no mistake, his cause is a just one and in time his simple act of defiance could be seen as an inflection point in the struggle for minorities of all kinds to be seen, treated and respected as equals in the eyes of those that simply do not.