Colin Kaepernick staged the first on-field protest of the 2016 NFL season on Friday [August 26], drawing a mixed reaction to his refusal to observe the National Anthem during San Francisco's preseason home opener against the Green Bay Packers. There is no telling how many fans took notice of Kap's lack of participation in the ceremony, or whether his teammates might have anticipated that he'd remain seated, as the 49ers QB seemed to indicate that he's been for the most part inconspicuous about his stance. "This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," he told NFL Media reporter Steve Wyche after the game. "I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed."
It wasn't until after the Niners' 21-10 defeat that it became apparent the veteran will be going into his sixth year with a message that transcends the sport. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. 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," he responded when confronted with the question as to what was behind his decision. "If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right," he said. The statement aroused the disapproval of some, but the respect of others across social media.
Leading up to the season it has been anticipated that some players will choose to speak out on the issue of police brutality. It's hard to gauge just what to expect in terms of protests, as many across the sporting world were indeed inspired by Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Lebron's call to action during the ESPY's. Divisions on how to approach the discussion have even shown up within teams, with Seattle's Michael Bennett coming forth in support of Black Lives Matter only days after teammate Richard Sherman saying that he does not stand behind everything the movement represents.