Before Friday's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a stand by not standing for the national anthem. It's a decision NFL.com reports will likely lead to "incredible backlash" against him. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people," 49ers Hot Read quotes Kaepernick as saying. "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” He says it would be "selfish" of him to do otherwise. In a statement, the 49ers say it's the right of every individual to choose whether or not to participate in the national anthem.
In the 1980s, NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended by the NBA for not standing during the national anthem. However, the NFL issued a statement Saturday stating players are "encouraged but not required" to stand for the anthem, the New York Daily News reports. So it appears Kaepernick will avoid punishment for his act of protest. NBA player and Rio gold-medal winner Carmelo Anthony recently asked athletes to stand up and use their visibility to address racial injustice and other political issues in the US, ABC News reports. Likewise, Kaepernick has said he wants to be more active in civil rights battles. Friday's game was Kaepernick's first game back from injury and off-season surgery. (Read more national anthem stories.)