An NFL star is drawing both criticism and praise after he chose to remain seated during the national anthem.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the song prior to a game Friday night, saying it was a protest against the oppression of people of color in the United States.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the exhibition game against Green Bay.
"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."
Kaepernick reportedly said he doesn't care if this means the end of his endorsements or even his career. He also reportedly informed no one on his team or the NFL about his intentions.
"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," he told NFL Media. "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."
Kaepernick's coach, Chip Kelly, told reporters it was the quarterback's "right as a citizen" to not acknowledge the anthem. "It's not my right to tell him not to do something," Kelly said.
In a statement, NFL officials had the following to say:
"The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."