With tensions high in a presidential election year, and social unrest garnering headlines nationwide, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a stance in the preseason to kneel during the national anthem to voice his displeasure over police brutality among other things, has been a focus of some for what they believe is dividing the country.
From fans burning his jersey, to death threats, Kaepernick has been in the crosshairs of many around the nation and has become somewhat of a scapegoat for the current national gloomy mood and even TV ratings being down this year in the NFL.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick Photo by: Getty Images
But one person who stands behind his quarterback’s right to protest, and doesn’t believe he has been a detriment to his team, is 49ers head coach Chip Kelly.
“No, if you’re here on a daily basis you know that it’s not a distraction and I think Colin handled it well after the preseason game against the Packers,” Kelly said. “That was on a Friday; on Sunday we had a team meeting and Colin spoke to his team and expressed what he was doing and the why of what he was doing and I think our players understood that. They recognized his right to do that. You don’t have to agree with him, but you do have to recognize his right to express his feelings the way he wants to express his feelings and that’s what makes this country so great: the freedom that all of us have as individuals.
“We really haven’t had to address it, nor have we addressed it since then because I think our players understand and recognize his right to do what he’s doing. It hasn’t been a distraction at all. It’s not a talk or a discussion that goes on in our locker room. When our guys get here every day at 8 o’clock and are here till 6 o’clock, they’re all about who our next opponent is and preparing for our next opponent because that’s what our job is and everybody is doing their job. Colin has not made it a distraction and it’s not a distraction.”
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has steered clear of the controversy, but was asked about it during his weekly press conference from the podium at One Buc on Wednesday.
“I haven’t talked to Colin on the issue, at all,” Winston said. “But, whatever he stands for, he’s had a strong stand for it. He’s a man, so he’s entitled to his own opinion. Me, I’m just focusing on the Bucs and football, nothing else.”
PewterReport.com caught up with defensive tackle Akeem Spence in open locker room and asked him his thoughts on what if Kaepernick was a Buccaneer.
“Kaepnick is his own man, but even if he was in this locker room and doing the same thing, he has his own beliefs,” Spence said. “And I have my own beliefs. I am not not going to go against him. I am not going to say it is wrong, I am not going to say it is right. That is something be believes in and he want s to stand up for it.
“(To his credit) he has definitely shown he is standing up for it by donating $1 million. He is fighting for it so I do respect him for that. But I don’t think there would be any controversy in this locker room.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
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