For the second time in two weeks, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has refused to stand during the national anthem.
At the start of the Aug. 26 preseason NFL game with the Green Bay Packers, he created a firestorm of controversy by sitting on the bench while the anthem was being played.
Before the Sept. 1 game against the San Diego Chargers, he protested by kneeling on the sideline instead of standing, reports ESPN. This time, he was joined by teammate Eric Reid.
The decision to take a knee was the result of a meeting with Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret who was briefly on the San Francisco roster. Boyer had written an open letter to Kaepernick that was published on ArmyTimes, in which he supported the quarterback’s actions, despite disagreeing with him on the matter.
In the letter, Boyer wrote:
I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes ... Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it ... So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind. I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem.
As a result of the letter, Kaepernick had a long discussion with Boyer at the team hotel before the game with the Chargers, with Reid present. Together, they came up with the idea of kneeling instead of sitting on the bench, as a more respectful way to show dissent.
At the game, Boyer stood next to the two kneeling players while the anthem was played.
Meanwhile, at another NFL game, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane expressed solidarity with Kaepernick by sitting on the bench during the national anthem before the game against the Oakland Raiders, ESPN reports.
"I just like what he's doing, and I'm standing behind him," Lane said.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll supported Lane’s decision. After the game, the coach said:
It's totally an individual decision, but these are very interesting issues that we're dealing with right now ... Our team has been working at it, and we've been in the process of communicating about a lot of stuff right now. That was an individual thing. But I'm really proud of the progress we're making in the conversation, and I look forward to continuing it with our guys.