One of America’s most listened to football talking heads unambiguously condemned Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem.
“I cannot say it in the strongest, most direct way, that it’s an embarrassment and it’s about as disrespectful as any athlete has ever been,” Boomer Esiason told Newsday‘s Bob Glauber. “And I don’t care what the cause is. The NFL football field is not a place for somebody to further their political ambitions. Can you imagine if a player went out on the field with a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and let’s vote for Trump? It’s the same thing.”
Esiason played 14 seasons in the NFL. Like Kaepernick, he took a team to the Super Bowl but fell short. He provides in-stdio analysis for CBS, which generally covers AFC games. But on a Thursday night game on October 6, CBS broadcasts a San Francisco 49ers-Arizona Cardinals contest to a nationwide audience. Kaepernick’s statements suggest that his refusal to stand for the song continues past that point. But his play on the field does not guarantee that he does so in a 49ers uniform.
Kaepernick sat while everyone else in Levi’s Stadium stood last Friday night during “The Star Spangled Banner.” He cited police brutality, racial profiling, and law enforcement killing black men as motivations for the unusual protest. Kaepernick claimed that cosmetologists receive more training than police and that departments reward officers with paid leave after they kill citizens.
“He is severely under-informed, and I welcome him to go ride in a cop car and take numerous 911 calls, going into places where guns and violence are everyday occurrences,” Esiason told Newsday. “Put on that blue uniform and put the shield on and see what it’s like to put your life in harm’s way every single day, and then get back to me when you’re making $35,000 or $40,000 a year, as opposed to the $11 million he’s making.”
The San Francisco quarterback vows to sit again on Thursday night as the 49ers roll into San Diego to take on the Chargers in the fourth and final preseason game. That decision may prove especially uncomfortable, as the Chargers announced a “Salute to the Military,” complete with a football-field-sized American flag, a national anthem performed by an enlisted man in uniform, a tribute to Vietnam veterans, a parachute jump by Navy Seals, and a crowd peopled in part by the active duty and retired military who constitute a disproportionately large part of San Diego’s population.