Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest injustice in this country by refusing to stand for the national anthem has found support among several current and former professional athletes, but don’t count Shaquille O’Neal among them. The former all-star center said Wednesday, “I would never do that.”
In an appearance on “Fox and Friends,” O’Neal took issue with the 49ers quarterback’s seemingly recent political activism. The four-time NBA champion noted that he was raised by a stepfather in the military and that he has police officers in his immediate family. O’Neal himself signed up to be an unpaid reserve cop in several cities where he played.
“People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody,” Kaepernick said in late August. “… I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.”
“I don’t know Colin, but to each his own. I don’t really have a say on it, but I would never do that,” O’Neal said Wednesday. “My father was a military man, and he protected this country. Uncles are in law enforcement, they go out and work hard every day. Just, you know — other ways to get your point across.”
“My question is: What happened last year? How come you didn’t decide to do this last year, or the year before that, or the year before that,” O’Neal said of Kaepernick to the “Fox and Friends” panel. He added, “My thing is, you know, you have to enter onto the scene one way. People like Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell, they were one way their whole career.
“You can’t show us something, and then go to another, just because of certain issues.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday, “We live in an imperfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.” However, he acknowledged Kaepernick’s “right” to protest.
Others in the league are more supportive of the quarterback’s stance. Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane and safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s teammate on the 49ers, emulated his refusal to stand for the anthem during Thursday’s final preseason games. Meanwhile, Kaepernick’s jersey has shot to near the top of the NFL’s sales charts.
President Obama recently said that he saw both sides of the coin. “There are a lot of ways you can do it,” Obama said Monday while attending the G-20 summit in China. “As a general matter when it comes to the flag and the national anthem, and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us — that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his deeper concerns are. But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think [Kaepernick] cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, he’s generated more conversation about issues that have to be talked about.”
O’Neal, however, is unimpressed. “There have always been injustices,” he said Wednesday. “… Me, personally, I would probably go about it a different way.”
Here is video of the “Fox and Friends” appearance.
(H/T Fox Sports)