Russell Wilson, the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, sounded off on the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem last Friday and on Thursday night, drawing widespread criticism.
A number of NFL players, coaches, and politicians have reacted to his protest, which he said was designed to raise awareness about police brutality. “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,” he told NFL.com over the weekend.
Wilson responded in a news conference this week, saying:
“I think, first of all, there’s no perfect answer. I understand and respect the cause because there’s so much going on in America right now. There’s so much hurt, there’s so much pain. Ultimately, I understand what he’s doing. For me, I love the flag, I love the national anthem because it’s an emotional time for me because I’m so grateful I get to play on the football field.”
“Every time I get to put my hand on my heart it’s truly an honor to the military for me. I think about my family members who have served and friends. I train down in San Diego all the time, so I’m around the Navy and I see those guys. Just to see those guys around and all they do for our country and the people in Afghanistan and all these people fighting – 9/11 for example, coming up here, that’s going to be our first game, and I think about all the pain from that. That’s why I stand and put my hand on the heart.”
Wilson noted that despite the issues the United States is facing, “it comes back to love.”
He said: “Like I said to you guys before, it comes back to loving one another, appreciating one another, understanding that we’re not perfect but we need to be equal. That’s from the black community. That’s from the white community. That’s from the police officers to everybody, all of our military to everybody we get to recognize and see. Have a great appreciation for what this country is based on and what it should be based on. It should be based on equality. It should be based on people having freedom of speech—people can have that decision.”
Wilson, however, said that he understands what Kaepernick is doing.
“But at the same time for me I also think about where we need to go,” he said. “Where our thoughts need to be, it needs to be about love, it needs to be about caring for one another. That’s for every community every situation, every socio-economic status. If we focus on that maybe something can change and I think that’s important.”