Christian NFL stars Russell Wilson and Benjamin Watson have weighed in on Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the National Anthem, explaining that while they understand his perspective, they will not be joining him in protesting the nation's flag.
The two athletes shared their thoughts after Kaepernick announced that he plans to sit during every performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at NFL games to represent "people that are being oppressed."
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," the San Francisco 49ers' backup quarterback told NFL Media.
Watson, the Baltimore Ravens tight end who is currently recovering, from a torn achilles, first noted that as soon as he is able, he will be standing for national anthem - even though America is still plagued by issues like racism, abortion, police brutality, and pollution. Standing for "The Star Spangled Banner", he argues, honors those who endured hardships to gain such a privilege.
"I stand because as a child, I saw my father stand. A man who lived the tumultuous transition from 'separate but equal' to the times surrounding the Civil Rights Act when angry people who held signs at his new school viciously screamed 'N**GER GO HOME," Watson wrote. "I stand because on the contrary, no one held such a sign when I walked into my grade school. Before competition, as I stand in shoulder pads and cleats, my helmet in my left hand, adrenaline flowing and my heart raging under my right, I never forget the ills of America but for a moment I envision its potential, remember its prosperity and give thanks to God for the land He has placed me in and the people I love who live in it."
While Watson will not be joining Kaepernick, he did acknowledge his fellow football player's right to protest.
"His actions and similar actions by figures of the past and present are a vital part of our journey and a key component of the equation for social change and should be respected as such. From the country's inception, such displays against the status quo are distinctly American," Watson wrote. "My hope, though, is that these actions bring more attention to the PROBLEM than to the PROTESTER. And that ensuing dialog discover truth and that truth give birth to justice in legitimate situations where there is none."
Meanwhile, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson says that he "understands" where Kaepernick is coming from, but will not be following suit.
"I love the flag. I love the national anthem," Wilson said via KCPQ. "I think about my family members who have served ... [That's] why I stand and put my hand on my heart."
Wilson went on to say that there "wasn't a perfect answer" and that he "understands the cause."
"Ultimately it comes down to love, treating everyone equally," he said.
While Kaepernick's sit-down has drawn criticism from many, including Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger and New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees, others, including President Obama and the 49ers, have issued statements respecting his right to use the moment to take a political stance.