Amid Colin Kaepernick’s protest over the U.S. national anthem, the San Diego Chargers will salute the military when the San Francisco 49ers play on Thursday night.
According to Fox5 San Diego, it will be the 28th year that the Chargers host their Salute to the Military Game, which is heavily attended by veterans and armed forces members. A Navy sailor will perform the national anthem and military personnel will parachute into the stadium before the preseason game.
Kaepernick, 28, was slammed this week for not standing during the national anthem on Friday. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick told NFL.com. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly said the team plans on playing Kaepernick during the Chargers game “just because he’s only got 13 snaps so far in the preseason,” according to a stream of his press conference. Presumptive starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert “will not play,” as he received “43 snaps in the preseason.”
“I think when you talk to our players, they’re focused on the 2016 season and how good the San Francisco 49ers can be,” Kelly added. “Like we’ve said all along, we recognize his right to express his feelings. … We’re all about preparing for the Chargers game this Thursday and then the (Los Angeles) Rams when the season opens up.”
Kelly also said he didn’t speak with Kaepernick about not standing during the national anthem.
San Diego has one of the largest military populations in the U.S., with seven military bases in the city and surrounding areas.
“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country,” Kaepernick told the media Sunday, according to Fox5. “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.”