NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick made his first start of the season Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers went head to head against the Buffalo Bills.
Kaepernick, of course, faced fan scrutiny specifically for his persistence in protesting against inequality and injustice by refusing to stand during the National Anthem. Outside of the Bills game in upstate New York, offensive T-shirts depicting an image of the athlete with a rifle sight targeted at him were reportedly being sold to fans.
When asked about the shirts at the game’s press conference, Kaepernick said he was prepared for the backlash.
“Like I said from the beginning,” he said addressing reporters, “I knew the consequences of what could come from this and I was prepared for that.”
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The player also made it clear that his actions are not at all unpatriotic: “I don’t understand what is un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody; for the equality that this country says it stands for. To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to standards that it says it lives by.”
Kaepernick displayed a message of his own with the Muhammad Ali t-shirt he sported to the post-game press conference. He said he wore the shirt “to pay homage” to the late champion and hero.
Colin Kaepernick arrives to the stadium wearing a Muhammad Ali shirt. pic.twitter.com/ep1bZKTiOa— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 16, 2016
“He was someone that fought a very similar fight and was trying to do what is right for the people. And for me to have someone like that come before me – that is huge,” said Kaepernick. “He is someone that helped pave the way for this to happen… I have to try to carry that on and try to fight that same fight until we accomplish our goal.”
Kaepernick is determined to continue protesting until positive change can be accomplished.