It's been three days since Colin Kaepernick chose to sit down during the National Anthem, but he's still catching heat for his controversial decision.
Kaepernick, who has responded to the criticism by making it clear that he will still choose to sit out the National Anthem, is now getting reactions from NFL players.
One of those players, Alejandro Villanueva, plays as left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, his perspective isn't just from playing football. Villanueva also served as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.
When asked about the controversy, he said, via The Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
“I agree that America is not perfect, I agree there are lot of issues with minorities in this country, I agree we should do something about it.
But I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down when the national anthem of the country that is providing you freedom and providing you $60 million a year is the best way to do it when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year.
I just know I’m very thankful to be an American. I will stand very proudly and sing every single line of the national anthem every single time I hear it. I will stop whatever I’m doing because I recognize I have to be very thankful to be in this country.”
Then, he explained why being an American is like winning the lottery:
“I tell my teammates all the time, especially when they talk about contracts, I’m one of the cheapest left tackles in the NFL [but] just by being an American I’ve won three lotteries. And if you have a little money on top of me, that means I have 3½ lotteries."
Then he explained how he agrees with Kaepernick on some issues, but doesn’t agree with how he addressed his concerns:
"I’ve been very fortunate to travel a lot and see what it’s like in different countries. I’ve experienced true racism that happens in Europe with a lot of minorities. It’s very difficult for me to be here in America, as grateful as I am, in the best country in the world, and have people not be pleased about it.
I think he's obviously upset and I think we all agree, the majority of America would agree, there's an issue with minorities in our country, the way some groups in our population are being treated.
I just think not standing up for America is a little bit unfair on his part because he's not taking into consideration the minorities that are fighting for the flag, like myself, the thousands of people who lay their lives so he can express himself.”
He also told ESPN, “Whenever you include an entire country in one of those protests, I think you might mislead some people who truly wake up every single morning trying to give everything, including their lives, to protect this country. It's a little bit unfair to group everybody under that category.”