Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit during the national anthem has drawn reaction from around the league and around the country. On Wednesday, Nate Boyer lent his opinion on the matter.
The 35-year-old veteran, who vied for a job with the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 following several years of service as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army, spoke to NFL Media's Lindsay Rhodes on Wednesday's edition of NFL Total Access on the subject of Kaepernick and how veterans and fellow Americans should view his actions:
"I would just listen. I would shut my mouth and just listen. There's just so much hate going on, and from both sides. No one wants to listen. Everyone just can't wait for their turn. It's getting old. I would 100 percent listen. I want to hear everything he's going through, he's struggling with. I'll never be to actually feel what it's actually like to be him, obviously. No one can feel that for anyone else.
"But at least if I just listen with an open mind, try my best to fight the judgments that are going on in my head because we all have those too, you might hear something that resonates with you."
When asked if it would have hurt to see a teammate sit during the anthem while he was a member of the Seahawks, Boyer replied, "It would've. First of all, I probably wouldn't have understood why, and I would've immediately took that as, 'He hates America.' I might think that. I think that's what a lot of people saw that as. That's why it was important for me to take a step back, take a breath, listen and try to find out why, why this gesture, why do it. ... I've been a fan of his since he started playing. Those things would have hurt me, just because of how I respect him on the field.
"But now honestly, I respect the decision that he's making. It sounds like he's sticking to it because he's well within his rights. That's something that we fight for and that is what this country is all about. That is what this flag represents to me and what the anthem means to me. He's being an American. That's what he's doing."
In an open letter published on ArmyTimes.com earlier in the day, Boyer spoke directly to Kaepernick, explaining his concerns with, but overall understanding of his protest.
"I'm not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It's your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I'd be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I've never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you've gone through is as ignorant as someone who's never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it's like to go to war. ...
"I look forward to the day you're inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I'll be standing right there next to you. Keep on trying. ... De Oppresso Liber."
Kaepernick has refused to stand during the national anthem during the Niners' three preseason games this summer, telling NFL Media's Steve Wyche that his decision is based on perceived societal wrongdoings against African-Americans and minorities in the U.S.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told Wyche last Friday night. "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."