Spurs’ Popovich Says Kaepernick ‘Was Very Courageous in What He Did’

Gregg Popovich
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told ESPN, that he feels former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick “was very courageous in what he did.”

What Kaepernick did was start the NFL anthem-kneeling movement in 2016 because he refused to, “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick believes some police officers got away with shooting unarmed black people.

“There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick said at the advent of the anthem protest movement.

In April, 2018, described police killings of African-Americans and Latinos in the U.S. as “lawful lynchings.”

Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem throughout the 2016 season, and was joined by a few other players. Kaepernick didn’t play the last two seasons, but some players continued what he started by protesting during the anthem in 2017-18.

Some people believe Kaepernick jeopardized his NFL career by his anthem-kneeling, and that’s why he’s been out of the league the last two years. This is perhaps one reason why Popovich considers him “very courageous.”

Starting NFL quarterbacks are often highly-compensated, and Kaepernick actually made $11.9 million as the San Francisco 49ers QB in 2016. The last two years he’s made no money playing football, but did get hired to do Nike commercials in 2018, and was featured in spots where he said, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Kaepernick feels he’s being blackballed due to his anthem-kneeling, and in October, 2017, filed a grievance against the NFL accusing team owners of colluding against him.

Popovich respects Kaepernick’s activism.

“He did it for the right reasons,” Popovich told ESPN.

Popovich feels Kaepernick is similar to Olympian’s Tommy Smith and John Carlos who raised their fists at the 1968 Mexico City Games to protest racial injustice, and were suspended from the U.S. track team. He also feels Kaepernick is similar to boxing great Muhammad Ali who lost his titles after refusing to serve in Vietnam.

Popovich believes these individuals were heavily criticized at the time of their actions, but eventually respected for them, and history will treat Kaepernick the same way

“I think the same story will unwind as time goes on,” Popovich said.

Kaepernick actually received the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.

“I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racialized injustice and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America,” Kaepernick said at the 2017 SI‘s Sportsperson of the Year ceremony. “I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today.”


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