Former Green Beret Nate Boyer on Colin Kaepernick: ‘It’s OK to be different’
I am sharing this, because reading this made me have to stop and rethink my own approach to the subject of NFL players protesting during the anthem.... it is a quick read and worth it...
Before former Seahawks and University of Texas long snapper Nate Boyer began playing football, he served six years in the United States Army. A former Green Beret, Boyer made the Longhorns' roster as a walk-on in 2010, and eventually signed with Seattle and had a short preseason stint in 2015 after going undrafted.
In August of 2016, Boyer wrote an open letter to Colin Kaepernick after the then-49ers quarterback started to gain national attention for sitting during the national anthem. Boyer and Kapernick met and discussed the issue, and it was Boyer who suggested to Kaepernick that he should kneel during the anthem as a respectful form of protest.
Boyer has frequently voiced his support for Kaepernick's right to protest, but as the issue of protests has been spun by commentators, and even the President of the United States, Kaepernick's actions have often been misconstrued as a question of patriotism. As the backlash to Nike's recent ad campaign starring Kaepernick has shown, there are plenty of people who still don't understand the issue at hand.
In a thoughtful op-ed published by NBC News, Boyer urged people "on both ends of the political spectrum" to embrace and respect conflicting viewpoints. Boyer writes that "nobody is a perfect patriot."
"Two years ago, Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the national anthem for the first time before the San Francisco 49ers played the Green Bay Packers in a preseason game. This was the statement he gave after the game explaining why he was protesting: "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."
When Kaepernick and I met and talked just six days later, a few hours before the 49ers were set to play the San Diego Chargers, we discussed a lot, but more importantly we listened to each other. I wanted him to stand and he had pledged to sit during the anthem, but we found middle ground: Colin would take a knee, making his statement about police brutality while also respecting the men and women who fought and died for what our flag is supposed to represent.The men who have followed in Kaepernick's footsteps say they are not protesting the anthem itself, they are demonstrating during the anthem. It's an important distinction to understand. Personally, I do not endorse Kaepernick's method of protest but I absolutely support his right to do so. That is an unpopular place to stand these days, in the radical middle, defending someone you somewhat disagree with…. It's hard for me to grasp why this is so difficult for people (from both ends of the political spectrum) to understand. It's OK to be different, it's what makes us the same - embrace it and remember that nobody's a perfect patriot, especially not me."