All eyes are on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who vows to sit out the national anthem again before Thursday night’s preseason NFL game, which happens to be “Military Night.”
“When there's significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent in this country, I'll stand," Kaepernick told reporters Sunday.
Kaepernick's protest has led to a growing firestorm.
The 49ers are playing their final preseason game against the Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium which will feature a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of current and retired military personnel who live and work in San Diego.
The national anthem will be performed by U.S. Navy Petty Officer Stephen Powell, an African-American.
Kaepernick's refusal to stand has led to a discussion of race in America. He's been blasted by CBS Sports announcer and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason.
The former Cincinnati Bengal called Kaepernick’s actions "disgraceful and despicable." Adding: "To use an NFL field for a political statement is absolutely ridiculous."
But Kaepernick is getting some support on social media with the just-created hashtag #veteransforkaepernick.
One veteran posted her photo with the caption: “I didn't serve this country for my son to be afraid to walk down the street at night.”
Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke out in support of Kaepernick in a recent Washington Post editorial.
“Patriotism isn’t just getting teary-eyed on the Fourth of July or choked up at war memorials. It’s supporting what the Fourth of July celebrates and what those war memorials commemorate: the U.S. Constitution’s insistence that all people should have the same rights and opportunities and that it is the obligation of the government to make that happen.
"When the government fails in those obligations, it is the responsibility of patriots to speak up and remind them of their duty," the NBA hall of famer wrote.
The controversy has even gained the attention of Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, who told Good Morning America: "I wouldn’t presume to tell him what to do."
Kaine added: "I mean, I’d do it differently. I think if you really thought about issues and about this country, you would do it different."
Singer John Legend is also coming to the quarterback’s defense and criticizing the national anthem as a song.
“My vote is for America The Beautiful. Star Spangled Banner is a weak song anyway,” he tweeted.
Then he added: “For those defending the current anthem, do you really truly love that song? I don't and I’m very good at singing it. Like, one of the best."
An unusual Kaeper-critic has emerged in the person of the quarterback's own mother, Heidi Russo, who tweeted: "There's ways to make change w/o disrespecting & bringing shame to the very country & family who afforded you so many blessings."
Russo put Kaepernic up for adoption when she gave birth to him at 19. He was adopted by a Wisconsin couple and was raised in their home.