Former 49ers coach (and current Michigan coach) Jim Harbaugh has praised the football abilities of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh now says Kaepernick’s non-football activities should be praised, too.
“Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem,” Harbaugh writes in Time as part of its recognition of him the magazine’s decision to name Kaepernick one of the 100 most influential persons in the word. “At times in our nation’s history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.
“Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or — most important — harming our own personal interests.”
A belief that Kaepernick is currently being blackballed sneaks out from between the lines of the four-paragraph tribute.
“I thank Colin for all he has contributed to the game of football as an outstanding player and trusted teammate,” Harbaugh writes “I also applaud Colin for the courage he has demonstrated in exercising his guaranteed right of free speech. His willingness to take a position at personal cost is now part of our American story.
“How lucky for us all and for our country to have among our citizens someone as remarkable as Colin Kaepernick.”
Harbaugh’s current words carry a much different message than his remarks from last August, after Kaepernick began his protest.
“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” Harbaugh said on August 29, He later clarified those sentiments, but his support was still equivocal: “I apologize for misspeaking my true sentiments. To clarify, I support Colin’s motivation. It’s his method of action that I take exception to,” Harbaugh said via Twitter that same day.
Today, nearly eight months later, Harbaugh is all in. Unfortunately, none of his former NFL peers seem to be.