Veteran who ‘inspired’ Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest wants to set the record straight

Colin Kaepernick formally of the 49ers knelt in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Nate Boyer, the former Green Beret whose conversation with Colin Kaepernick literally inspired the former 49ers quarterback to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality, wants to set the record straight once and for all.

This week, Boyer spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the protests that have become a cultural firestorm and sparked political unrest and controversy all throughout the NFL.

Boyer, who had multiple war deployments as a Green Beret, loves football just as much as Kaepernick and even tried out as a long snapper for the Seattle Seahawks at one point. And admits he was initially “disappointed” when he first heard Kaepernick was sitting down during the national anthem.

But instead of spouting out divisive rhetoric, he decided to instead send a thoughtful open letter to Kaepernick which appeared in the Army Times and eventually went viral. His words touched Kaepernick so much, the veteran was asked to meet with him and teammate Eric Reid.

During their heart-to-heart Kaepernick was adamant he would not stand, so they all began to brainstorm ways to protest in a more inspiring way than sitting on the bench.

During the next game – in a show of solidarity to both his activism and his respect for the armed forces – Colin Kaepernick knelt during the anthem, while Boyer, with his hand over his heart, stood alongside him on the sideline in street clothes.

“I was showing that I support his right to do that, I support the message behind what he’s demonstrating for,” he explained to the LA Times.

“But I’m also standing with pride because I feel differently in a lot of ways too. But there’s nothing wrong with feeling differently and believing different things. We can still work together to make this place better.”

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In addition to fact checking conservatives, he also wants to make some clarifications for liberals who mistakenly claim he told Colin Kaepernick to take a knee.

“And I’m like, ‘I didn’t tell him to do anything,” he explained. “I definitely didn’t tell him to protest. What I did was meet with him, make suggestions on different ways to do it after he was already protesting. And worked with him to kind of come to a middle ground.’”

And as for conservatives: “[They] put all veterans in this box and say, ‘You’re offending every veteran.’ That’s also ridiculous. Or, ‘He’s protesting the anthem.’ He’s not protesting the national anthem. It has become an anthem debate, but that’s not what the protest is about. It’s about racial inequality, police brutality.”

Listen to a snippet of the interview, in Boyer’s own words, below.

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