A gesture first employed by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest violence at the expense of blacks in the United States has turned into something bigger.
In the pre-season of 2016, Kaepernick remained seated during the playing of the national anthem before games. In the final preseason game of that season, he knelt through the anthem instead. When the regular season got underway, eleven other NFL players began following his example. That number grew slowly through that season and the next.
What has Trump Said?
On September 22, President Trump asked, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired, he’s fired’?” The President has followed up many times with tweets complaining that the owners are harming themselves by coddling such players.
In game after game the following weekend, players united as a team to ‘take a knee’ during the anthem. They were often joined in this by owners.
The Punch Line
Taking a knee during a national anthem has come to be recognized as a gesture of defiance. It is now a defiance of Presidential overreach as much as a response to the blue-on-black violence that so much bothered Kaepernick.