San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem at the start of an Aug. 26 exhibition football game against the Green Bay Packers.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," 28-year-old Kaepernick told media after the game, according to the NFL. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
In at least one other preseason game, Kaepernick, who is biracial and was adopted and raised by white parents, also refused to stand for the national anthem.
The 49ers responded to his decision in a statement:
The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.
Chip Kelly, the 49ers coach, said it was Kaepernick’s "right as a citizen” to choose to not stand for the national anthem, and that it's not Kelly's "right to tell [Kaepernick] not to do something.”
Kaepernick did not inform anyone affiliated with the team of his decision prior to the game, and is not concerned with any consequences that may stem from his actions.
"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," he said. "I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."
In a separate statement to CSN Bay Area, the NFL said standing for the national anthem is not a requirement.
“Players are encouraged, but not required, to stand during the playing of the National Anthem,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem is not expected to impact his employment with the 49ers.