San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick told reporters that he will donate the first $1 million he earns this season to various organizations that help communities.
Before Thursday’s preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, a 31–21 victory by San Francisco, Kaepernick kneeled down during the national anthem, a continuation of a protest he has done throughout the preseason. He was joined by 49ers teammate Eric Reid, and in Oakland, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat down during the anthem.
"The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-men-and-women of the military and that’s not the case at all," Kaepernick said. “I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.’’
Kaepernick said donating the money is something he had been thinking about doing in order to do more than his silent protest.
“I am planning to take it a step further, I'm currently working with organizations to be involved, and making sure I'm actively in these communities, as well as donating the first million dollars I make this year to different organizations to help these communities and help these people.
"I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people,” he said. “I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed, or given the opportunities to succeed.”
Kaepernick said that he and Reid had a long conversation with former NFL long snapper and United States Army Green Beret Nate Boyer before the game about “how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are.”
He said that the meeting was when they came up with the idea of kneeling, as opposed to sitting as Kaepernick had previously done.
Boyer tweeted a photo with Kaepernick shortly before the 49ers’ game.
In his post-game comments, Kaepernick again addressed his motivation behind his anthem protest.
“The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we have to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed, we have a lot of people that aren't treated equally, aren't given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed.”
- Molly Geary and Scooby Axson