OWINGS MILLS – Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that regardless of whether he agreed with Colin Kaepernick’s actions, he defended Kaepernick’s right not to stand for the national anthem, as the protest by the 49ers quarterback continued to draw significant attention.
“We are talking about a free country,” Harbaugh said following Monday’s practice. “I’m grateful for the right to express my displeasure, and that is what Colin chose to do. It is certainly his right to do it.”
Harbaugh’s brother, Jim Harbaugh, coached Kaepernick with the 49ers for four seasons.
“I know Colin through Jim,” Harbaugh said. “He comes from a great family. He has been brought up the right way with good people who care about him and love him. He reflects that in how successful he has been. I know Jim really likes him a lot, so I respect him. I respect his choice for whatever it is.”
Harbaugh said if a Ravens’ player decided to take a controversial stand, he hoped the player would take great thought before doing so.
“As far as our players go, it becomes about respect,” Harbaugh said. “I think you respect the opinions of everybody in the room and respect their right to express their opinion. Voltaire (French philosopher) so eloquently stated, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend until death your right to say it.’
“That is the principle our country is founded on. I don’t think you can deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anyone else’s opinion. You stand on your opinion, and when you state your opinion, it takes a little bit of courage, and there are going to be people that disagree with it. I tell our guys, ‘If you are going to say something publicly, think about it. Make sure you really believe that, because when you speak out there, it is out there, and it belongs to you now.’
“The other part of it is that we are a team. Anything that we do should never…You respect our team, our organization and the other players, and you respect the mission that were are on and what we are trying to accomplish. None of us ever want to do anything that is going to detract or disrespect the efforts of all the other players on the football team. I think that is the balance that all of us have to strike when we speak out about something like that.”
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