NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick address anthem protest controversy

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Goodell, Kaepernick address anthem protest controversy
As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reacted for the first time to 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the national anthem, Kap spoke out again about his intentions after practice at Levi's Stadium.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News has learned that Santa Clara's mayor has asked the local police union to work the San Francisco 49ers games after they threatened to boycott over Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protests. Additionally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on the controversy for the first time on Wednesday.

FULL INTERVIEW: Kaepernick talks anthem protest, patriotism

A wide range of people have taken a stand -- military veterans, other players, and even President Barack Obama. But this is one voice that counts -- Goodell says he doesn't agree with Kaepernick, but that's not stopping the Niners quarterback.

Kaepernick says when he's on the field, he focuses on football. He hasn't even talked about his protest with Coach Chip Kelly. But he has with his teammates. Some are reluctant to join him, he says. Kaepernick talked to us in the locker room after practice.

"A lot of them have families to feed and I think that's a tragic situation where players aren't comfortable with speaking what's really on their mind or what's right because they're afraid of consequences that come along with it," he said.

RELATED: Kaepernick thankful for support, will donate proceeds from jersey sales

They might take a cue from Goodell, who on Wednesday said, "I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing. We encourage our players to be respectful. I like to think of it as a moment where we can unite as a country... and that's what i think football does - it unites our country."

Kaepernick knows he has angered veterans and others who think he's unpatriotic.

"In order to change, you have to be able to agitate people at times," he said. "And I think that's something that's very necessary for us to improve as a country."

RELATED: Obama defends Kaepernick's national anthem protest

He pointed out that when he has sat or kneeled on one leg during the national anthem, he did so behind the team's drink coolers so he would not stand out.

One other issue surfaced -- the online speculation that he has converted to Islam.

"I have seen that and I haven't," said Kaepernick. "I have great respect for the religion. I know a lot of people that are Muslim and, you know, are phenomenal people. But I think that comes along with peoples' fear of this protest."

He acknowledged his girlfriend and her family are Muslim.

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