Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown is supporting NFL star Colin Kaepernick‘s recent protest during the National Anthem at a pre-season game.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback sat in protest during the song at the game, saying he would not honor a song nor “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Referencing to the recent shooting deaths of African-Americans by police, he told NFL Media that his conscience would not allow him to partake in the pre-game ceremony Friday against the Green Bay Packers.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” he said.
Brown said on “NFL Total Access” Monday that Kaepernick “makes all the sense in the world.”
“He’s within his rights and he’s telling the truth as he sees it,” said Brown. “I am with him 100 percent.”
— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) August 29, 2016
“I don’t know what the big issue is, because this young man and backing up his statement…becomes stronger in my mind. Now if you ask me ‘Would I do that?’ No I won’t, because I see it a little differently. I’m an American citizen, I pay my taxes, I want my equal rights, but this is my country, and consequently I don’t want to open up for ISIS or anybody that will take away what we’ve already gained.”
Brown also said a lot has changed since he was in the NFL years ago. At that point, he said, players were focused on fighting for equal rights and equal pay.
“Young men in my day really stepped up. These were champions for freedom, equality and justice for all humans beings, and they were educated individuals that used their education and knowledge to represent their case. So now 50 years later we have a young man saying something that was kind of taken for granted in our day. We were way past that. For me it’s like going back in time.”
Brown said in his day, players were encouraged to “not mess with your image.” He said many players were “reminded” to be an “all-American boys.”
Things have changed, however, he said, adding the players have what it takes to deal with any backlash after what they stand up for.
“These guys have broken through — LeBron James and his group…once they do the homework and really search it out, they’ll learn to take the action. Once they start taking action, they will really reach out into the communities…and use their money in a proper manner.”
Kaepernick said he was fully aware of the controversy he was courting with his decision.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”