Victor Cruz, a wide receiver for the New York Giants, has responded to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the National Anthem.
Cruz, who is returning from a season-ending injury he suffered in October 2014, didn’t agree with Kaepernick’s actions.
“I think, personally, the flag is the flag. Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things like that,” he told USA Today.
“You’ve got to respect the flag and stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion. I think you go up there. You’re with your team, and you pledge your allegiance to the flag and the national anthem as a team, and then you go about your business, whatever your beliefs are. Colin is his own man.”
“He decided to sit down and sit out and that’s his prerogative. But from a personal standpoint, I think you have to stand out there with your team and understand that this is a game and understand that what’s going on in the country.”
Kaepernick has been sitting down during the National Anthem all preseason long, as some have noted. It was only Friday, when he was suited up to play, when national media outlets took notice of him sitting.
He told NFL Media that he’s not “going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
49ers coach Chip Kelly told reporters on Saturday that Kaepernick’s decision to not stand is “his right as a citizen,” adding that “it’s not my right to tell him not to do something.”
The NFL also released a statement, saying that “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
According to NFL Media, Kaepernick’s relationship with 49ers’ management has been poor. He requested a trade last spring, which never took place.