Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion

Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion

Programming note: Watch the full interview with Nate Boyer and Charles Woodson on tonight’s episode of “Race In America: A Candid Conversation” on NBC Sports Bay Area at 8 p.m., hosted by Monte Poole and Logan Murdock.

Just before the 49ers' penultimate preseason game of 2016, quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench as the National Anthem played at Levi's Stadium. Following the game, he explained the gesture was a protest against police brutality. 
It wasn't Kaepernick's first foray into activism. He was inspired to protest by the murder of Mario Woods, who was killed by San Francisco police after an alleged stabbing in 2015. But this was the first time he used the NFL's platform to convey his message and the response was mixed. While he got some support, many league faces like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees criticized the protest, saying it disrespected the military. Others, like President Donald Trump, later offered the same refrain. 
Former NFL long snapper Nate Boyer harbored similar feelings. Inspired to join the military after the Sept. 11th attacks, later becoming a Green Beret. Boyer, a white male, saw the flag as a symbol of his fallen comrades in the line of duty. But instead of openly criticizing Kaepernick, he sought to understand his point of view. 

"That really hurt me," Boyer said. "But I also was like, "All right, don't just react because of your emotions."

The two met days after Kaepernick's initial protest, just before the 49ers' preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers. In the hotel lobby, Boyer told Kaepernick about his experiences with the flag. About the time he brought one of his best friends home in a casket draped with the flag. How standing for the anthem meant he was in solidarity with his fallen soldiers. But Kaepernick had a different take on the anthem and how the lyrics "liberty and justice for all" didn't always apply to Black people. At the end of the meeting, Kaepernick asked Boyer a question.

"Nate, do you think there's another way I could demonstrate or protest that won't offend people in the military?"

Boyer suggested Kaepernick kneel for the anthem and the quarterback agreed. However, despite Boyer's recommendation, Kaepernick's biggest detractors maintained the talking point that the QB's new method of protest was disrespectful to anyone that had served. The stubbornness showed that even when a person's message is crystal clear, critics will use talking points to dilute it, instead of talking things out to enact real change. 

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While Kaepernick was settling into a new form of protest, former Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson was starting his post-playing career in broadcasting at ESPN. He had experienced racism during his youth. 

"I remember one time in probably middle school where we got into it with some folks down the street from my house, and the police rode up on us, man, into our neighborhood and cop has his gun out," Woodson recalled. "He's shaking like a leaf. I'm sitting there standing still and I'm talking to the officer. It's almost as if I'm trying to talk him down, but I'm like, "Hey, man, I'm not moving. I see you shaking, man. I'm not moving, and I'm not going to move."
As Kaepernick remained steadfast in his decision to kneel, Woodson noticed the message behind it continued to be distorted by those criticizing him. 
"People put him on opposite sides of the flag, and that's the way it was presented," Woodson explained. "This is Colin Kaepernick. He's protesting against America. Maybe he doesn't want to be here. He doesn't respect our military. He doesn't respect the flag. And it's like the entire message that he put forth just went right over everyone's head."
Kaepernick kept kneeling and the criticism kept coming, even as police kept killing citizens. Trump continued his verbal onslaught, tweeting players should be "fired" for kneeling. At a rally in Alabama, Trump used inflammatory language in arguing that owners should discipline players who kneeled during the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b---h off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired! You know, some owner is gonna do that."
All the while police kept killing unarmed Black people. In 2018, Stephon Clarke was killed by Sacramento authorities in his backyard. Police shot 20 rounds, thinking Clarke had a gun. Following the shooting, only a cell phone was recovered on Clarke's person. More disturbing, both police officers involved were cleared of all charges. 
Nearly two years later, George Floyd -- a 46-year-old Black man -- died after fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin -- a white man -- pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe." Floyd was detained after a store owner alleged he used a counterfeit $20 bill. Police also initially alleged he resisted arrest, but nearby surveillance footage disputed those claims. Since Floyd's death, protests have sprouted around the globe, including Germany and Australia.
As the protests grew in numbers, Kaepernick's name was brought up again, only now with much more reverence. Numerous athletes began plotting out similar protests when their respective sports returned from the coronavirus-inflicted hiatuses. Nonetheless, Brees was still among those pushing back with similar rhetoric, criticizing the form of protest while continuing to miss the point.

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“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees told Yahoo Finance earlier this month. "I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II -- one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. … Is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together.”
This time, however, it was Brees catching the brunt of the criticism, with pundits and players alike reminding him why Kaepernick protested in the first place. But therein lies the problem in today's world. Folks tend to stick to talking points instead of conversing with one another to enact real change. Instead, more should take the route of Boyer and try to understand what the historically-disenfranchised race has been going through for centuries. Maybe then, we can see real change.
"People are kind of gravitating towards one side of an issue or another side of an issue, and not really wanting to hear the other side's opinion or consider the other side's perspective as being valid," Boyer said. "Which is very unhealthy and dangerous."

How 49ers' two 2020 New York games could be impacted by coronavirus

How 49ers' two 2020 New York games could be impacted by coronavirus

The 49ers are planning to spend more than a week in New York in September, but that might not happen anymore.

NBC Sports NFL analyst Peter King reported Sunday night that the NFL will urge teams with back-to-back road games in opposite time zones not to stay in hotels between games.

"The eight teams that have such back-to-backs will probably have to file “IDER plans,” which stands for infectious disease emergency response," King wrote Sunday in his latest "Football Morning In America" column. "These are detailed travel and sequestering plans that the league and the union will need to approve before a team is able to stay on the road for that length of time. I’m told the league is going to strongly urge teams not to stay on the road that long, despite the inconvenience for the teams involved."

Back in May, King reported that the 49ers and Raiders were among eight teams to ask the NFL to group together road games in the Pacific or Eastern time zone.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The league scheduled the 49ers to play at the New York Jets in Week 2 and the New York Giants in Week 3 during the 2020 NFL season, meaning San Francisco could stay in the New York area to reduce travel.

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But with the coronavirus pandemic raging, it now appears that the league won't allow the 49ers and other teams to stay on the road rather than returning home.

Like everyone else around the world, NFL teams are going to have to get used to adjusting their routines. If the 49ers have to travel back to the Bay Area and then return to New York a few days later, it surely will be an inconvenience. But this is going to be a season of inconveniences.

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

NFL opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

As the sports world now is underway despite the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is next up. There will be questions and concerns aplenty, too. 

Before training camp even begins, several players already have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to health concerns. That list is bound to grow as well.

Here is who will not be suiting up this season as the virus continues to run rampant. 

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG, Kansas City Chiefs

Duvernay-Tardif, who has a medical degree from and has been working as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec during the pandemic, became the first player to opt out of the 2020 season. The Chiefs' starting offensive guard tweeted his reasoning on July 24. 

De'Anthony Thomas, WR/KR, Baltimore Ravens 

Return specialist De'Anthony Thomas voluntarily opted out of the season, the Ravens announced Monday. 

Chance Warmack, OG, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reported Monday that Warmack has opted out of the season. Warmack, who signed with the Seahawks this spring, also sat out last season 

Maurice Canady, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Garafolo also reported Monday that Canady is opting out of the season as well. 

Marcus Cannon, OL, New England Patriots

Cannon, who battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2011, will not play in 2020.

Danny Vitale, FB, New England Patriots

Vitale and his wife recently had a baby, so the fullback will not be participating in the 2020 season.

Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

Hightower, who has a two-week-old son, is choosing to protect his family's safety.

Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bolden is one of five Patriots to opt-out of the season.

Patrick Chung, S, New England Patriots

Add another Patriot to the list.

Najee Toran, OL, New England Patriots

Make that six Patriots. 

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The former 49ers receiver announced he will not play this season after the birth of his daughter in February.

Andre Smith, OL, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens announced Smith joined his teammate, De'Anthony Thomas, in opting out this year. 

Star Lotulelei, DT, Buffalo Bills

The Bills announced former first-round draft pick Star Lotulelei has opted out. 

Stephen Guidry, WR, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys annoinced undrafted rookie Stephen Guidry has opted out.

Devin Funchess, WR, Green Bay Packers

Funchess announced on Instagram that he has opted out of the season. 

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Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, Houston Texans

The former Raiders defensive lineman will not play in 2020.

Cole Wick, TE, New Orleans Saints

The veteran tight end will not play this season, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero.

Michael Pierce, DT, Minnesota Vikings

Pierce, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract this offseson, is high-risk and has opted out.

Nate Solder, LT, New York Giants

Solder opted out of the season, citing family's health concerns.

Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The star of Super Bowl LIV has opted out of the season, the Chiefs announced.

Chandler Brewer, C, Los Angeles Rams

Brewer played seven games with the Rams after signing as an undrafted free agent last summer.

“With my history with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I am at high risk and will opt out of playing in the NFL this season,” Brewer said in a statement posted to the team’s website. “I would like to thank the Rams for their support and I look forward to getting back on the field in 2021 and beyond."

Marquise Lee, WR, New England Patriots

The USC product became a father for the first time in February, and cited his newborn daughter as a major factor in his decision.

"This is a big sit-down process I had, with me and my significant other, as far as family goes. The risk factor in which we believe that's going out there, it just wasn't worth it in a sense. Just too many unknowns," Lee told ESPN.com.

C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker is citing family health concerns as his reason for opting out, ESPN's Rich Cimini reported Saturday.

E.J. Gaines, CB, Buffalo Bills

Bills general manager Brandon Beane says the cornerback will sit out the 2020 season. 

Matt LaCosse, TE, New England Patriots

Matt LaCosse is the eighth Patriot to opt out of the season.

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