When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem before his team's game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, he stirred up different reactions.
Count Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Alex Boone among those who do not agree with Kaepernick.
Tom Pelissero of USA Today shared some of Boone's comments Sunday:
It's hard for me, because my brother was a Marine, and he lost a lot of friends over there. That flag obviously gives (Kaepernick) the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it. At the same time, you should have some (expletive) respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom.
We're out here playing a game, making millions of dollars. People are losing their life, and you don't have the common courtesy to do that. That just drove me nuts.
Boone was a member of the 49ers from 2009 to 2015.
He had this to say when asked what would have happened if the two were still teammates: "See, I'm a very emotional person. So I think if I had known that, my emotions would've been rolling—I think we would've had a problem on the sideline."
During Boone's interview, he was wearing a shirt with Chris Kyle's name on it (the late Navy SEAL who was the subject of the movie American Sniper).
Steve Wyche of NFL.com relayed Kaepernick's explanation: "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."
The NFL also released a statement: "Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."
Kaepernick is one of a number of athletes who have recently taken a stand on social issues, along with members of the WNBA's New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, among others.
Boone and Kaepernick were teammates when the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. Boone is expected to start this season; Kaepernick's situation is murkier.
According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Jay Glazer suggested on Fox the 49ers may release Kaepernick for football reasons and start Blaine Gabbert. Glazer reported the team is concerned with Kaepernick's on-field decline and post-injury status.
Kaepernick is guaranteed $11.9 million in 2016.