Rodney Harrison Says Colin Kaepernick Is 'Not Black' Amid 49ers QB's Protest

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist

New England Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison talks about the value of a player like Troy Brown to a football team following Brown's announcing that he was retiring from the NFL at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Robert E. Klein)
Robert E Klein/Associated Press

Former NFL defensive back Rodney Harrison stated Tuesday he believes San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick's "heart is in the right place" concerning his protest of the national anthem, but he doesn't think the quarterback fully understands the situation because he's "not black."

Jordan Heck of Sporting News passed along comments Harrison made about the subject during a radio appearance with Lance Zierlein and Matt Thomas of Houston's SportsTalk 790:

I tell you this, I'm a black man. And Colin Kaepernick—he's not black. He can not understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face, or people of color face, on a every single (day) basis. When you walk in a grocery store, and you might have $2,000 or $3,000 in your pocket and you go up in to a Foot Locker and they're looking at you like you about to steal something.

You know, I don't think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis.

Here's the full conversation about the hot-button topic:

ESPN's Sage Steele and Buffalo Bills fullback Jerome Felton responded to Harrison's comments on Twitter, criticizing him for his stance:

Sage Steele @sagesteele

.@Rodney_Harrison ..ppl like u claim us biracial kids when it's convenient for u. That's a racist, dbl standard. Sad https://t.co/t6kGHLiTx9

jerome felton @jfelton45

I think everybody can agree that @Rodney_Harrison is a clown!!!! What a idiot and disgrace, everybody in our locker room agrees on this!

Harrison later apologized on Twitter if he offended anyone with his comments:

Rodney Harrison @Rodney_Harrison

I apologize to anyone that I offended , wasn't meant to be hurtful to anyone. God bless

Rodney Harrison @Rodney_Harrison

Last point I want people to know. I never even knew he was mixed.

Rodney Harrison @Rodney_Harrison

I should not have called Colin Kaepernick’s race into question during this morning’s radio interview. It was a mistake and I apologize.

Harrison apologized again on Wednesday, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe:

Kaepernick, a biracial Wisconsin native born to a white mother and a black father before being adopted, has caused a national conversation about standing for the national anthem after declining to do so before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers last week.

NFL Media's Steve Wyche provided remarks from the 28-year-old about why he made the decision, which drew both criticism and praise.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick 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."

Kaepernick said he understood the risk of taking a public stand before opting to sit during the anthem.

"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," he said. "I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."

Kaepernick made the same choice during the 49ers' first two preseason games, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. He sat out those contests because of injury, however, so the action went unnoticed without his uniform on.

Most of the discussion about the issue has centered on whether refusing to stand for the anthem sends the right message. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees told Mike Triplett of ESPN.com he doesn't have a problem with Kaepernick's motivation, but he believes the flag is "sacred" and disagrees with his method of protest.

Harrison's comments figure to generate further controversy because they bring another layer of the racial component into play. But as Kaepernick has said throughout the situation, he wasn't looking for outside approval anyway.


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