An Illinois mattress store owner sparked controversy after allowing customers to wipe their feet on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's jersey.
“Does he have the right to protest? Absolutely,” said Dave Gerwing, owner of Beds, Beds, Beds in Crestwood, of Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the national anthem, WBBM reports. “The same way I have the right to put his jersey on the floor.”
“People have made the ultimate sacrifice," he added. "They have died for our freedoms. Sitting down on your butt is nothing more than a disservice and disrespect to the people fighting for our rights.”
Gerwin placed a copy of Kaepernick’s jersey near the entrance of his store near a sign inviting customers to use it as a doormat, the Daily Mail reports.
"Please feel free to wipe your feet," the sign reads.
The mattress store owner adds this is not about race to him, but patriotism.
“This is not a race issue for me,” Gerwing said.“If this were Eli Manning doing this, his jersey would be on the floor right now as well.”
“We do have racial issues in this country,” Gerwing added. “Is this country perfect? Absolutely not. There are issues that do need to be dealt with, but it’s pretty, pretty good, if you ask me.”
Robert Littal for Black Sports Online disagrees.
"The difference is of course kneeling isn’t disrespectful, having someone wipe your feet on a jersey is," he said.
"Wonder what Dave Gerwing has to say about Terence Crutcher being assassinated in the street by a cop?" he said, referring to an unarmed black man shot by a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "Is he going to put a cop uniform down next?"
But Gerwing is not the only one using the jersey as a doormat.
He is one of many store owners taking such a stance against Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem for social, racial and economic justice.
Man Cave Cigar Lounge in League City, Texas, responded similarly to the Kaepernick's protests, Houston Patch reports.
"Everybody who walked in would kind of wipe their feet on it," Man Cave General Manager Clint Denny said of Kaepernick's jersey.
Denny said he would only leave the jersey duct-taped to the ground temporarily.