NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown offered his support for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who declined to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday.
In an interview Monday on NFL Total Access, Brown said he wouldn't have chosen the method Kaepernick did to make his point but otherwise stood behind the sixth-year veteran: "I listen to him, and he makes all the sense in the world. He's within his rights, and he's telling the truth as he sees it. And I am with him 100 percent."
On Saturday, Kaepernick explained the reasoning behind his statement on the sideline to NFL Media's Steve Wyche.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said. "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."
In addition to Brown, multiple teammates have publicly said they're behind Kaepernick:
Brown has been known for his social activism, and like Muhammad Ali, he helped set the stage for generations of black athletes to come.
"Jim Brown's still honored because he's a legend for not only what he did on the football field but for what he did in the community," Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James said in February, per the Plain Dealer's Branson Wright. "Being an African-American growing up in the times that he did, standing up for what he believed in during one of the toughest times in this world's history is something to admire."
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman argued Kaepernick's message wasn't different from what Brown, Ali and others had to say decades ago:
If you celebrated Ali but condemn Kaepernick, then you never fully understood Ali, because they are saying the exact...same...thing.
I don't agree with Kaepernick. I don't believe the anthem or flag represents bigotry or oppression. Most who honor it don't believe in bigotry or oppression. This is a nation that twice elected an African-American man to the presidency by comfortable margins. A mostly bigoted nation doesn't do that.
But this doesn't mean Kaepernick is wrong about some aspects of what's happening in America (though that is another topic). The main point is that we can't ask our athletes to be honest and then, when they are, turn on them.
Kaepernick said he'll continue to sit down during the national anthem, per USA Today's Nate Davis, but he may have few opportunities to continue his peaceful protest in San Francisco.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer (via Fox Sports' Nunzio Ingrassia) reported the 49ers may be looking to release Kaepernick as a result of his past struggles on the field and poor offseason. Meanwhile, the MMQB's Albert Breer tweeted San Francisco could keep him on the roster but hold him off the active squad, similar to how the Washington Redskins handled Robert Griffin III last year.