CLAIM: Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick was praying when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem in 2016.
VERDICT: False. Colin Kaepernick himself has spent six years speaking about his motivations for taking a knee and never once claimed he was doing so to observe his religion.
On Tuesday’s broadcast of ABC’s extreme left-wing daytime talk show, The View, purported comedienne Joy Behar made the absurd claim that ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was “thrown off the team” for praying on the sidelines when he took a knee during the national anthem.
Joy Behar on the SCOTUS prayer case: "I’d like to know if it would apply to Colin Kaepernick… the guy takes a knee and he gets thrown off the team. He could be … praying that these people would leave him alone… Suddenly it’s illegal for him but it’s okay for this group." pic.twitter.com/KTDu3F8tNb
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) June 28, 2022
Behar’s fact-free proclamation came as the panel discussed the recent Supreme Court decision that ruled that a Washington high school coach was improperly punished for praying on the field during high school football games.
Colin Kaepernick was a second-string quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers when during the entirety of the 2016 season, he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem in protest against the country. The following season he turned free agent, but no team signed him, and he has been on the sidelines ever since.
But, although Kaepernick has never mentioned “praying” and has always maintained his actions were a political protest, Behar is suddenly claiming Kaepernick was “praying.” So his actions should be covered by the U.S. Constitution.
Colin Kaepernick throwing at Michigan’s Spring Game (Jaime Crawford/Getty Images)
During the June 28 broadcast, Behar wondered, “I’d like to know if it would apply to Colin Kaepernick, for example?”
She went on to wholly mischaracterize Kaepernick’s actions, saying, “He takes a knee — I don’t know if this is really legal or any of what I’m saying — but it seems to me like the guy takes a knee and he gets thrown off the team. But he could be praying, too, praying, you know, that these people would leave him alone. I don’t know what he’s praying for. But he could be praying. Who knows what you’re doing when you take a knee. Doesn’t that look like prayer to you? Suddenly it’s illegal for him but it’s okay for this guy.”
Behar clearly hasn’t a clue what she is talking about. Even if Kaepernick were praying when he took a knee, the Supreme Court case they were discussing would not apply to him. The case, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, concerned a taxpayer-funded county school district and its punishment of a teacher/coach. It is a citizen versus government case. But in Kaepernick’s case, all sides are private citizens, and no government interests are involved.
Furthermore, Kaepernick was never “thrown off a team” for his protests. His contract was up at the end of the 2016 season, and he simply never found another team to sign him. You can argue that he was blackballed, sure, but he was never fired by any team over his protests.
But, that aside, Kaepernick has never once in six years said that he was “praying” on the sidelines when he took a knee. Certainly, his motivations have wandered from one topic to another, but by his own admission, religious expression was never his goal.
Colin Kaepernick working out for NFL scouts (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
When Kaepernick began his protests in 2016, he said directly that he could not stand for the American flag. His protest was a direct attack on the flag and the country, and he said so in his own words in August of 2016.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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,” Kaepernick said.
But Kaepernick also gave other clues about the nature of his protests in 2016, and not one of those motivations entailed his religion.
For instance, he wore a shirt praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a mass murderer and self-professed enemy of America. Kaepernick also showed that he was not just protesting the few police that misbehaved when he wore socks that portrayed all police officers as pigs.
Also, in 2016, Kaepernick said that the U.S. was never great, noting that he was standing up against the whole country in general, not just in support of “social justice,” with his anthem protests.
The former NFL player also made his protest about the flag when he forced Nike to ditch its Betsy Ross flag shoes in 2019. Nike announced it intended to release a patriotic gym shoe with a Betsy Ross Flag theme until Kaepernick ginned up the anti-American left to attack Nike for the proposal. In one of his broadsides against Nike, Kaepernick even claimed that the U.S. Betsy Ross flag was a “symbol of slavery.”
Joy Behar is simply inventing things to fit her political agenda.