Colin Kaepernick has gotten plenty of praise and criticism for his decision not to stand during the national anthem to protest social injustice. Comments from ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer about the San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback certainly fall into the category of criticism.
Dilfer said Sunday during the network’s NFL pregame show that Kaepernick was making himself the “center of attention” at a time that his and the team’s focus should be on the start of the season. The former Super Bowl champion quarterback also said Kaepernick’s job as a second-string player “is to be quiet and sit in the shadows and get the starter ready to play Week 1.”
Kaepernick responded to Dilfer’s comments while speaking to reporters Monday after the 49ers’ 28-0 win over the Rams.
“I think that’s one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve heard,” Kaepernick said. “The fact [Dilfer] says, ‘You are a backup QB; stay in your place.’ That’s an issue.
“To me, you are telling me that my position as a backup QB and being quiet is more important than people’s lives. I would ask him to really have a conversation with the families of people that have been murdered and see if he still feels that way. Because I bet that he doesn’t, just because he hasn’t experienced that type of oppression.
“I hope he goes home and really thinks about what he said and how it impacts not just [him] but how it impacts people whose lives are affected by these issues on a daily basis.”
Dilfer stated that Kaepernick’s protest “has disrupted the organization. It has caused friction and has torn at the fabric of the team.”
At least some of the 49er players are on Kaepernick’s side. The quarterback, who started his protest during the preseason, was joined on his knee during the anthem by teammate Eric Reid on Monday night and during the final exhibition game.
Fellow 49ers Eli Harold and Antoine Bethea raised their fists during the anthem Monday night, and several 49er players showed their support for Kaepernick with a hug or a handshake after the song.
“Nothing has ever been done without criticism,” Kaepernick said. “Every great change, whether it is revolution or evolution of things, there is always criticism and there is always that ‘I don’t like change’ kind of mentality.
“In the long run, they will see what is going on, they will see what is right and they will understand.”