It was inevitable that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner"—and his subsequent explanations about his actions—would generate a torrent of opinion. When you combine the issues of police brutality, racism, patriotism and the enlightened discursive platform that is the NFL, you're asking for a mess.
And lo, the takes have reigned down on us in ample supply, fattening us up for the long winter to come. Let's take a journey down the rabbit hole, where we will find some of the very worst of them.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback
Drew Brees is very good at playing football. He is less good at formulating logical arguments.
It is… an oxymoron… to exercise the right to sit down… because it's disrespecting the freedom of the flag… well, regardless, this quote is nearly impossible to parse.
Thankfully, Brees followed up with a helpful clarification on his Twitter account:
Jerry Rice, former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver
Brees was far from the only person to use the "respect the nature of the protest, don't respect the method of the protest" line of reasoning. (This line of reasoning conveniently allows Kaepernick's critics to completely sidestep the actual substance of the protest.)
Here's Jerry Rice, the legendary wide receiver, doing exactly that. He even got in an "All Lives Matter" for good measure! Well done, Jerry.
San Francisco Police Officers Association
Other entities, on the other hand, engaged in no such rhetorical gymnastics, choosing instead to just go right at Kaepernick. San Francisco's police union, which mocked the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this month, chastised Kaepernick as "foolish" in a long, long statement:
"While we certainly acknowledge Mr. Kaepernick's First Amendment right to remain seated during the National Anthem, as inappropriate as that may be, we will not stand by while he attacks police officers in this country with statements such as, 'People are on paid leave while people of color are killed,'" the SFPOA wrote.
The authors also managed to sneak a "what about BLACK-ON-BLACK crime" in there, writing, "Perhaps he could lend his commentary to the over 8,000 murders that African Americans inflicted on one another in 2015."
Rodney Harrison, former New England Patriots safety
Kaepernick's biological father is black.
UPDATE: Harrison has gone into full backtrack mode:
Tony Stewart, former NASCAR driver
Perhaps it's cheating to include NASCAR driver takes in this round-up, but this one was too good to pass up.
John Isner, American tennis player
Who is John Isner, you might be wondering? He's a tall tennis player with this lame opinion:
And now you know.
Tomi Lahren, The Blaze
Let's wrap it up with this:
"I guarantee there are thousands and thousands of people around the world who would gladly take your spot, because those that don’t live under this flag are banging on the door to get in, not get out," Lahren said in a viral Facebook video. "Remember that.”
Donald Trump, racist
"Well, I have followed [the Kaepernick story], and I think it’s personally not a good thing," Trump said. "I think it’s a terrible thing. And you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try, it won’t happen."
Another sterling contribution!
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.