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Members of the San Francisco 49ers, including Colin Kaepernick, spoke with reporters on Sunday to discuss the quarterback's recent decision to sit for the national anthem during Friday night's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
Here's a roundup of the key comments from team leaders.
QB Colin Kaepernick
(on why he chose to sit during national anthem during Week 3 of preseason) "People don't realize what's really going on in this country. There are a lot things that are going on that are unjust. People aren't being held accountable for. And that's something that needs to change. That's something that this country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it's not happening for all right now."
(on his message to members of the military) "I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That's not happening. 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. That's something that's not happening. I've seen videos, 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 have for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That's not right."
(on how his teammates have reacted to him) "The support I've gotten from my teammates has been great. I think a lot of my teammates come from areas where this might be the situation. Their families might be put in this situation. It's something that I've had a lot of people come up to me and say, 'I really respect you for what you're doing and what you're standing for.' So to me that's something that I know what I'm doing was right, and I know other people see what I'm doing is right, it's something that we have to come together. We have to unite. We have to unify and make a change."
(on his comments to the team in a player's only meeting) "It was a conversation. They asked me to talk and just explain why I did what I did. And why I felt the way I felt. I had an open conversation with them. I told them why I felt that way and looked at things the way I do. A lot of it has to do with the history of the country and where we're currently at. I opened it up to all my teammates. Come talk to me if you have any questions. If you want to understand what I'm thinking further, come talk to me. It shouldn't be something that should be hidden. These conversations need to happen and can bring everybody closer."
LB NaVorro Bowman
"Every guy on this team is entitled to his opinion. We're all grown men. We play the ultimate team sport. And we ask a lot of guys to come together, no matter what their beliefs are, no matter how they were brought up, to have one common goal, and that's to win football games. Anything outside of that is not really important to the team. We just continue to stress that.
S Antoine Bethea
"We recognize what he did and what he took a stand for. And as human beings, and citizens, he has that right to do so. Everybody's going to have their opinion, whether you agree or disagree, you have to take note of why America is America. He's able to do that. He has that right."
WR Torrey Smith
"When I think of the national anthem, I think of the soldiers, the soldiers that have died for our rights, and a right that he exercised. So I get why people are mad. I'm not (as) focused on how he did it but the message he's trying to send is important. We have real issues in society that need to be addressed. That was his way of standing up for it. I respect his right."
QB Blaine Gabbert
"The beautiful thing about the country is everyone is afforded their right to their opinion. That's his opinion, and that's what makes this country so great, everyone can stand for what they think is right."
TE/FB Bruce Miller
"I think we had a better understanding of what he's feeling and what he's trying to say, and that we can move on and approach this in our own way, but also be knowledgeable and understand where he was coming from. We're not always going to agree or disagree, but we're going to support every guy just the same."