When Steve Wyche discovered that Colin Kaepernick was not standing for the national anthem, he wanted to know why. So he asked Kaepernick, 28, why he was doing what he was doing – or in this case, not doing.
Wyche asked. Kaepernick responded.
“He opened up,” Wyche, the NFL reporter and analyst, said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He was very willing, he was very passionate and absolutely spoke with tremendous conviction. I don’t know if this is something he necessarily wanted to get off of his chest, but the more we speak, the more it seemed like that was the case. As we saw yesterday when he came and spoke to the rest of the media, he didn’t back down. He owned it. He said he was willing to take the backlash and anything else that came with it, so that’s kind of the genesis of how all of this started.”
As a result, Kaepernick, who is protesting the treatment of racial minorities, has sparked a national controversy. He said that his protest is not anti-military and that he respects the men and women who have fought for our country. Still, he said he cannot sit idly by as law enforcement, in his words, is “getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick might not be intending to disrespect the flag or military or law enforcement, but Doug Gottlieb thinks that is more or less what he is doing.
Is it fair to think that?
“I think it is fair,” Wyche said. “Look, when you see 70,000 people standing for the national anthem, including your teammates and coaches, and you’re saying ‘I’m not going to do that,’ you’re basically saying, ‘I’m not recognizing what you are recognizing.’ I think that can largely be interpreted as being disrespectful, and it got the attention. It disturbed people to kind of get them to talk about certain things. Yes, a lot of people are talking about his behavior, but a lot of people are also talking about what he’s protesting. . . . It doesn’t mean they’re talking positively or in certain ways about it, but we have to say regardless of whether you agree with the methods of what he’s done, it has definitely started a conversation.”
Kaepernick also criticized Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for making what he considers racist comments over the last several months and years. He also called out Clinton for her email scandal.
That was kind of a weird, winding path, no?
“I’m not going to call it weird,” Wyche said. “There’s a lot of people who just basically feel – regardless of who the leadership might be – that we’re still seeing what some people perceive as injustices, especially against minorities and black people. I think that was the point he was making. He was asked specifically was the timing of this in any way related to the presidential campaign. He said it wasn’t the timing of it, but while we’re on the subject, basically let me say what I want to say about Trump and say what I want to say about Hillary Clinton.”
Wyche feels that Kaepernick’s protest is definitely a distraction for the Niners, who last year went 5-11 and finished last in the NFC West.
“It absolutely is a distraction, but I won’t say it’s necessarily a disruption,” Wyche said. “They had a team meeting and they aired it out. There were several players who were offended by what he did. They thought it was disrespectful to the military. They got up, they aired their voices, Kaepernick got up and said what he had to say. Basically when they left the meeting, they said we’re going to agree to disagree, but we at least took the time to clear the air to see where everybody is coming from.”
NaVorro Bowman, in fact, said the team is more unified now that players got things off their chest. So while Kaepernick’s protest is a distraction, it could actually help his team.
“It was a distraction because players who had not subjected themselves to any of this had to answer questions from the media,” Wyche said. “They had to harbor feelings and speak their feelings that they maybe didn’t want to speak publicly about because of what Kaepernick did. But again, I think it’s a distraction but not a disruption. Because today, at least in the locker room, they’ve turned toward preparing for their next preseason game and also the season-opener against the Rams.”