Jim Harbaugh, the former coach of the San Francisco 49ers, slammed quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem before games. “I acknowledge his right to do it. But I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” Harbaugh said, according to CSN Bay Area.
As coach, Harbaugh was chiefly responsible for bringing Kaepernick into the spotlight over four seasons together, especially after the young quarterback took over for an injured Alex Smith in 2012.
Kaepernick and Harbaugh have long been joined in the minds of football fans. Under Harbaugh’s tutelage, Kaepernick led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, their first in decades, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s older brother, John. (John Harbaugh has been less harsh towards Kaepernick’s protest. “Voltaire so eloquently stated, ‘I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend it until death your right to say it,'” the elder Harbaugh said, according to ESPN.)
The younger Harbaugh, who left the 49ers to coach at the University of Michigan, his alma mater, is thought to have a conservative bent. He disagreed publicly with President Barack Obama’s criticism of football as a harmful sport. After the president said that if he had a son, he would not him to play football, Harbaugh said: “Well, I have a 4-month-old, soon-to-be-5-month-old son, Jack Harbaugh. If President Obama feels that way, then there will be a little less competition for Jack Harbaugh for when he gets old enough. That’s the first thing that jumps in my mind if other parents are thinking that way.” In the past, Harbaugh has also been praised by Christian fans for acknowledging God before beginning press conferences. And in 2015, he backed the screening of American Sniper on campus, against protests by the university’s resident leftists.
Kaepernick’s protest is non-partisan: he has criticized both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, for example. He says that he will continue his protest until he sees some improvement in the way black Americans are treated by law enforcement.
In 2014, Kaepernick was fined $11,025 by the league for using the “N-word” during a game against the Chicago Bears.
This article has been updated to add the detail about American Sniper.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.