Colin Kaepernick made his first start on Sunday since launching a national anthem protest that has created plenty of notoriety for the 49ers quarterback. On Sunday, he was the target of fan scrutiny.
After the game, Kaepernick was asked about a rumor that a bottle had been thrown at him.
“If they did, they don’t have very good aim,” Kaepernick told reporters, with a laugh. “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.”
Asked whether his status as a starter gives the underlying message more weight, Kaepernick said that more weight isn’t needed.
“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 said. “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.”
Kaepernick wore a Muhammad Ali T-shirt to the post-game press conference. He explained the wardrobe decision after the game.
“To pay homage,” Kaepernick said. “He was someone that fought a very similar fight and was trying to do what is right for the people. And for me to have someone like that come before me, that is huge. He is
someone that helped pave the way for this to happen. What he did and what he stood for, people remember him more for that than they do as a boxer. I can’t let him die in vain; I have to try to carry that on and try to fight that same fight until we accomplish our goal.”
Regarding the T-shirts being sold outside the stadium with an image of a rifle sight trained on Kaepernick, he was asked whether he’s still getting death threats.
“No, those are rare occurrences now,” Kaepernick said. “I think for the most part, people are realizing the impact and what is going on. Like I said from the beginning, I knew the consequences of what could come from this and I was prepared for that.”
He also may have been prepared for fans to regard him an unpatriotic. But he disagrees with that perception.
“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. To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to
uphold the United States to standards that it says it lives by.”
On this polarizing issue, nothing Kaepernick says will change the minds of those who believe that Kaepernick should be standing for the anthem. And nothing anyone says about Kaepernick being disrespectful in kneeling for the anthem will change the minds of those who agree with him.