Chris Long Comments on Colin Kaepernick and National Anthem Protests

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2016

New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

New England Patriots defensive lineman Chris Long stated Tuesday he supports the public stance of Colin Kaepernick and other members of the NFL community who have decided to protest the national anthem to take a stand against racial injustice.

Kevin Duffy of MassLive passed along the expansive comments Long made about the situation during an appearance on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. He believes perspective, both in terms of race and country, is crucial to understanding what those players are fighting for:

This is a wonderful country, and I think everybody agrees on that. But there are things that in our country that can improve, and I don't think that by acknowledging as a white male that America isn't the same for me maybe as it is for everybody, the same great place, that we're complicit in the problem or that we're saying America isn't a great place. If we're saying there are incidents of oppression, systematically or individually in this country, I don't think saying, "Well, in Country X, Y or Z it's 10 times worse," is making things any better. I think that may be true, but why can't we improve?

Long, a 31-year-old veteran who's playing his ninth NFL season, lamented the fact that those smaller details are often omitted from the conversation. He also praised Kaepernick for putting himself out there when he knew about the potential backlash.

"And I respect my peers, I respect Colin," he said. "Colin really put his reputation on the line, and he's taking a beating. He's also had support. I don't think he did it for publicity. And listen, I'm just going to listen to my peers, because I respect those guys, and I can't put myself in their shoes."

Last month, the San Francisco 49ers' backup quarterback explained to Steve Wyche of that he didn't ask for any outside opinions before beginning his protest during the preseason.

"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," Kaepernick 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."

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The decision to risk his professional career in order to start a national conversation about the issue, which is exactly what's happened over the past couple of weeks, is why Long believes it's important for people to perhaps take a look at the decision from a fresh viewpoint.

"I play in a league that's 70 percent black, and my peers—guys I come to work with, guys I respect, who are very socially aware, intellectual guys—if they identify something that they think is worth putting their reputations on the line, creating controversy, I'm going to listen to those guys," he said.

Long went on to say he would never go as far as kneeling during the national anthem. But he also wanted to make it clear that personal decision doesn't mean he thinks the efforts of others like Kaepernick aren't addressing a serious topic.