SAN DIEGO -- San Diego, a major home port for the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, is a big military town. But the city’s largest conflict Thursday is in the football stadium, hours before the game even kicks off.
The San Diego Chargers play host to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night for an NFL pre-season game.
Last week, Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback, ignited a firestorm byduring the national anthem. He called the flag a symbol of oppression against people of color.
And on Thursday, aover his choice of footwear during training camp in August, where he wore socks depicting police officers as pigs.
“When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand,” Kaepernick said.
Thursday night’s game is billed as military appreciation night, so Kaepernick’s stance struck a nerve.
“I don’t like it,” said Navy veteran John Lair. “If he’s not for our country and the United States flag, get out of my country.”
“I won’t watch a 49er game from now on. On account of him,” Lair said.
Boomer Esiason, a CBS Sports football analyst and former NFL quarterback, called Kaepernick’s actions “disgraceful.”
“When you see people disrespecting the flag or the national anthem, it really rubs you the wrong way,” Esiason said.
But Kaepernick is getting some support. Veterans on social media are using the hashtag #veteransforkaepernick.
“As much as I don’t agree with it, and as much as a lot of people don’t agree with it, that is his right,” said Army veteran Jeremiah Thompson.
Arian Foster, a running back with the Miami Dolphins, has talked with Kaepernick and supports him, even if many fans do not.
“You’re entitled to feel or say whatever you want to about Colin Kaepernick, but there are people in this country that are hurting, whether you want to believe it or not,” Foster said.