SANTA CLARA (AP) — Colin Kaepernick was encouraged that President Barack Obama recently weighed in on his national anthem protest by praising him for generating conversation about social issues.
Obama said Monday that he had no doubt that the San Francisco 49ers quarterback is sincere and “cares about some real, legitimate issues.” He also said approvingly that Kaepernick has generated more national conversation about “issues that need to be talked about” since his refusal to stand for the anthem became public less than two weeks ago.
“He’s someone who also realizes there’s many issues that need to be addressed and need changing in this country,” Kaepernick said Wednesday. “I think a lot of the initial shock of what the protest was about and the kind of significance of that was lost in the action and the message wasn’t really addressed. I think that was great that he came out and supported the message that we do need to make changes in these areas.”
Kaepernick did not stand for the national anthem all preseason and his protest became public after he sat before a home game against Green Bay on Aug. 26. Kaepernick has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the many reasons for his actions and said he plans to continue to not stand for the anthem during the regular season.
Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem last Thursday in San Diego with teammate Eric Reid in a move meant to show more respect to some military members who had been critical of the protest. Seattle defensive back Jeremy Lane also joined in by sitting before his team’s game in Oakland last week. Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said Wednesday that he is considering joining the protest as well but wants “to get all my ducks in a row before I do so.”
“I think it’s something where there’s a lot of players that really feel the same way,” Kaepernick said. “They’re just nervous about consequences that come along with it. A lot of them have families to feed. I think that’s a tragic situation where players aren’t comfortable speaking what’s really on their mind and what’s right because they’re afraid of consequences that come along with it.”
Kaepernick plans to continue the protest when the regular season starts next Monday against the Los Angeles Rams. He said he would refuse to stand for the anthem even if the Niners opened the season like most teams on Sunday, which is the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Once again, this isn’t a protest against men and women in the military. I have great respect for them,” Kaepernick said. “People are getting lost in what the true message is, and don’t want to address what it really is and address those issues. And that’s really the problem. I wish people would be as outraged about the murders that are happening in the street as they are about a protest.”
Earlier Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he disagrees with Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the anthem but recognizes the quarterback’s right to protest.
“I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society,” Goodell said in an email to the AP. “On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.”
Kaepernick said last week that he planned to donate $1 million from his salary to groups supporting his cause and announced Wednesday that he will donate proceeds from his jersey sales to charity to thank fans for their support. Sales of Kaepernick’s jersey have skyrocketed since his protest became public.
“The jersey sales jumped because of people’s belief that there can be change,” he said. “And we can make this country better, and that they believe I was someone who could help that change.”
In football news, Kaepernick said he is getting stronger each day after missing the offseason program following three operations and sitting out two weeks in training camp with a tired throwing shoulder.
That lack of practice time contributed to Blaine Gabbert winning the starting quarterback job for the 49ers. Kaepernick will open the season as a backup for the first time since 2012. He replaced the injured Alex Smith as starter later that season and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
“I have to wait my time and work,” he said. “I’ve been in this position before. Last time I was in this position I ended up in the Super Bowl. So I continue to work and prepare for when that next opportunity comes.”