One day after Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre said "hero status will be stamped with" Colin Kaepernick like it was with Pat Tillman, Favre tweeted Monday that his comments were "not a comparison of the two, but a recognition that they both sidelined their football dreams in pursuit of a cause."
Including Pat Tillman’s name in the interview on Colin Kaepernick was not a comparison of the two, but a recognition that they both sidelined their football dreams in pursuit of a cause. Pat tragically lost his life, making the ultimate sacrifice, and deserves the highest honor.— Brett Favre (@BrettFavre) June 22, 2020
TMZ Sports asked Favre in a video published Sunday where Kaepernick, a former 49ers quarterback, stood in sports history after his protest of police brutality and institutional racism by kneeling during the national anthem before games in the 2016 NFL season. Favre then invoked Tillman, a four-year NFL safety who quit football to serve in the U.S. Army in 2002.
"I can only think of -- right off the top of my head -- Pat Tillman's another guy who did something similar, and we regard him as a hero," Favre said. "So, I'd assume that hero status will be stamped with Kaepernick as well."
Tillman, an Army Ranger, was killed by friendly fire in 2004. Reporting after his death, which officials initially said was due to enemy fire and allegedly covered up in conversations with Tillman's family, revealed that Tillman was critical of then-President George W. Bush and grew to consider the United States' invasion of Iraq "illegal."
Kaepernick, who faced criticism from owners and even President Donald Trump for his protest, has not been signed by an NFL team since becoming a free agent in 2017. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers after general manager John Lynch told Kaepernick he'd otherwise be released.
The QB settled a collusion lawsuit with the NFL last February, and Kaepernick has maintained that he still wants to play football. Kaepernick said in February he would be "ready for a phone call, tryout, [or] workout at any point in time." Favre told TMZ Sports that he hoped Kaepernick, who grew up a fan of Favre's Green Bay Packers, would get another chance to play.
"I think from a football sense, I can't imagine him being that far out of shape or that far out of touch with football that he doesn't deserve a shot," Favre said. "... And he's still young and hasn't been hit in several years, so there's no reason to think that he's lost that much of a step."
Kaepernick's protest has received renewed attention after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody last month, as global demonstrations continue in protest of the issues Kaepernick called attention to by kneeling. Public opinion seems to have shifted, too.
Fifty-two percent of respondents answered yes to a question in a Yahoo News/You Gov poll this month asking "Is it Is it OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans?” Just 38 percent of respondents answered yes in 2015.
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