49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spoke with Buffalo media for 11 minutes on a conference call Wednesday in advance of his first start of the season Sunday at New Era Field. Here are the highlights:
On the idea that a lot of people around the country will be rooting against him:
CK: “Well, I think there’s going to be a lot of people rooting for me as well. I think a lot of the people that are rooting against me because of what my stance is, what I believe in and the people and injustice I’m fighting for, you know, it’s sad to see that they don’t feel the empathy or compassion that other people should have the same rights, same justices, and be treated the same way as them.”
On being an even bigger focus and facing even more criticism now that he’s starting:
CK: “As far as the stance goes, what I’m doing is trying to stand up for people who don’t have a voice, whose voices aren’t being heard. They’re not being listened to, they’re not being respected as human beings. So at the end of the day I know what I’m doing is right and I’m doing it for the right reasons. So, whatever the reaction or backlash or any of those things are, I feel comfortable with because I know what I’m doing is right. As far as stepping on the field … I’m excited to be back out there. I’m excited to have the opportunity to help my team win a game this week. And that’s what our focus is.”
On if he feels winning and playing well would amplify his movement:
CK: “No, I don’t feel pressure along with this. My voice is being heard. I think the voice of the people is ultimately being heard. At a state where we’ve had Supreme Court justices, we’ve had the president, we’ve had many high officials have to address this, now communities, police departments are having to address this as well. And that’s what we need. We need people willing to make a change and stand up for what’s right, even if it’s uncomfortable.”
On Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg saying his protest was "dumb and disrespectful":
CK: "You know, I got asked that yesterday as well. Once again, something where it’s disappointing to hear that from someone in her position. A Supreme Court justice thinking that it’s dumb to stand up for injustices that people are experiencing and oppression in this country, that’s very disappointing to see. And once again, as I was reading different articles, I came across one that was talking about the scientific discourse of pathology and how the white critique of black protest has always been used to delegitimize what the protest is really about. And calling it stupid, dumb, moronic, idiotic, all those things, is a way to sidestep the real issue so you no longer have to address it.”
On if he’s proud of the platform he’s created for himself:
CK: “No, I don’t see this as a platform I’ve created for myself; it’s a platform for the people. That’s what this is about, it’s about the people that are experiencing injustices. And a lot of the injustices that these people are experiencing, I don’t have to deal with on a daily basis because, you know, I do have money, I’m considered the upper class. I am a male. I am looked at a different way because I play football and am considered a celebrity. Whereas if those things weren’t attached to who I was as a person, people would look at me and treat me completely different than how they do now. And that’s ultimately what the issue is. You have to look at people as human beings, not what their status is or how they can help you.”
On if actually playing helps his movement:
CK: "I think, regardless of my play, this movement is going to be legitimate. People’s lives are always going to be legitimate, they’re always going to be worthwhile, they’re always going to be worth fighting for. Now if me winning some games and playing well amplifies how much people want to listen to what I’m saying and what I’m fighting for, great. But regardless of what happens on the field, there’s nothing that can delegitimize what this movement is about."
On if he considered protesting during anything besides the anthem:
CK: "That was a personal decision. Once again, I wasn’t going to stand up for a flag that oppresses people of color, particularly black people. That’s just not something I felt was morally right. That’s not something I could live with as far as standing up and holding that in high regard if it doesn’t hold people that look like me in high regard."
On if he’s spoken with any members of the Bills about his movement or if they’ve asked him about it:
CK: "At this point I have not."
On if he can be the player he was when he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl:
CK: "We’ll find out on Sunday."
Story topics: Colin Kaepernick