Sit, stand, kneel, who cares?

San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

I have been trying to hold my tongue about the Colin Kaepernick situation in the NFL but after ESPN released a poll saying he is now the most disliked player in the league, I think it is time to talk about it. Yes, I do not agree with his approach and the fact that he is not standing up for the National Anthem and the American Flag but I do not think he should be getting condemned or be the most hated player in the NFL.

ESPN recently released a poll of 1,100 people conducted by E-Poll Marketing Research asking who was the most disliked player in the NFL. The top five were Kaepernick (29 percent), Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (22 percent), Miami Dolphins defensive end Ndamukong Suh (21 percent), New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (13 percent) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger  (10 percent). In my opinion, there are three reasons to hate a football player: he destroys you or underperforms in fantasy, he has a negative effect towards your favorite team or he has done something morally objective in the eyes of the law and society.

The first one is rather obvious; the first week in fantasy I played New Orleans Saints receiver Brandin Cooks and Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware who both dropped more than 30 points on me. I hated them because they destroyed me in fantasy but that hate is fleeting as fantasy football is just a game and a competition. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is one of the most loved fantasy players because he is a freak athletically on the field, but this does not mean that NFL fans love him the most. Hate in fantasy football is a fluid concept and that is why it is the first reason to hate a player.

The second reason to hate a player in the NFL is because he either causes an incident with your team or consistently excels against your favorite team. As a Giants fan, two players that fit this mold are Josh Norman and Jason Witten. Norman caused Odell Beckham to get suspended and I view him as a negative player while Jason Witten is the equivalent to David Ortiz to the Yankees.

Jason Witten is a stand-up guy, as there was a masterful episode of “E:60” done on him that showed he is a great guy. Norman on the other hand, I am still skeptical about, but he is a good player and I hate him because of the fact he is good. Both of these players are phenomenal players and I hate them because of what they do to my team, this feeling is why many Patriots fans hate seeingsee Bernard Karmell Pollard sharing the same field with any Patriots player. Off the field these guys are good people, but they are hated because of their on-the-field actions.

The last category is because of players’ off the field actions. These are players like Greg Hardy and Josh Brown who have both been suspended because of their history of domestic violence and heinous crimes. Many people in society want to peg Kaepernick in this category which I find baffling because he is not a monster like these men, and players like Ray Rice who openly beat his wife on camera and denied it.  Former players like Darren Sharper, Rice, and Lawrence Taylor not only tarnish the game with their off-the-field acts of violence but the players around them.

Kaepernick, whether you view his kneeling as right or wrong, is not breaking any laws or NFL rules as he is figuratively, not literally, taking a stand against injustices he feels are plaguing America in the 21st century. Everyone has an opinion on everything and is within their rights to hate him and burn his jersey, but do not hate him like you would someone who has been suspected of beating his wife 20 times, someone who beat his wife on camera or someone who beat his wife to the point of death. Respect his opinion and move on. 

As 'South Park' said in the first episode of the new season, “ For our national anthem, we now ask you all in solidarity, to please rise, or sit, or take a knee in order to honor America” as it does not matter how you honor America, it just matters that you are.  


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn volleyball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.