I have a couple of different feelings on Colin Kaepernick and his decision to not stand for the national anthem in protest of racial injustices, as I think most people do no matter what your background, your race or ethnicity.
Obviously, Colin has the right to protest. There are people who have fought and died for that right and this is the greatest country in the world because he has that ability. There are several countries that I have been to, or that I’ve talked to people that have been to that we hear about on the news, where they would be in prison or worse if he did that. Fortunately for us, he’s allowed that liberty.
First of a weekly column during the NFL season by David Carr
Personally, I have family who were in the military and who are in the police force – my wife’s brother, in particular. He was a Marine, went over twice and now he’s a Bakersfield police officer. And, Colin, I like him a lot. I was with him in San Francisco when he first got drafted, worked out with him all summer. I think he’s a good kid. I think he has a good heart. I think he means well and I’m all for his ability to fight for civil rights, for freedom, for equality, for everything.
But I think the problem is, and where you get the dissension is, the way that he chose to do it. For some people the American flag means the military or it means these people have died for us, so if you’re not standing up for the flag, then you’re not standing up for the people who have died and you’re not standing up for family members or friends, and so I think they don’t hear his words.
They see his protests and, unfortunately, it’s divisive right off the bat just because they never really listen to what he says and if you listen to his words, he wants what everyone wants.
The people who are upset at him, I think they want the same things that he wants. That’s the hard part, the way in which he went about it, I just don’t agree with it and I think a lot of people don’t agree with it. Some people do, and that’s their opinion. But I think at the end of the day everyone agrees with the words that he’s saying. He wants it to be fair for everyone. He wants it to be equal. But the way in which he went about it, unfortunately it divides people right off the bat.
Lots of talk on the NFL Network set
There has been great conversation about it, and that’s the good thing. People have started talking about it, which is what we need to do. Kurt Warner and I were talking about this last week when we were on the NFL Network set. But as much as we talk about it, what do we do? What’s the next step? That’s where people need to go, that’s where people need to get to. We can talk about this all day, but we have to actually do something about it.
That’s what we’ve been asking. We had Jim Brown on the show the other day and Kurt asked him, “How do we apply this conversation?” He brought up guys like Ray Lewis. He brought up guys who are ex-players in the community. All the NFL players, all athletes, they’re from every city in America.
I think the biggest thing we have to do as athletes is we have to get out there and do something about it. We have to be in the community. We have to be in the schools. We can’t just play our game, disappear into our homes, come out the next week and play our game and disappear again and when the offseason comes bounce off to some random island for three months. We have to be involved in the community and if you want change, there are enough people in football, in baseball, in basketball, in every sport. It touches every area, every community.
We have to get out in the community, show them what a good role model is, show them how to actually be someone who can be involved in the community, and sports is great for that. I love what the NFL does with Play60 – they’re trying to get kids out just doing something and if they’re playing ball for an hour, they can’t go do something else. I know it’s a small thing, but if everybody bought into this thing and everybody went out and tried to serve their community and tried to give back …
I had a lot of athletes who I watched growing up that I liked, but until somebody in your community reaches out and takes some time with you, it’s not really the same.
Meeting Trent Dilfer while at Kastner Intermediate School
When I was playing at Kastner Intermediate School, I was new in Fresno. I had never really been anywhere. I didn’t know anybody. But I was playing football, so I automatically had 80 friends. My coach, Mike Babcock, invited me to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting – and it doesn’t have to be FCA, it could be anything – and he invited me to his house and we had pizza and we hung out and Trent Dilfer was there. He was the quarterback at Fresno State at the time and he ended up speaking to us for about 20 minutes, signed an autograph for me that I still have today.
I’ve known Trent ever since and I don’t know if he even remembers that conversation, but it changed my entire outlook on life. I was like, you know what, this guy is a Christian athlete. He’s a great guy. He’s a standup dude. He plays quarterback at Fresno State. I want to play quarterback at Fresno State. I want to be like him. And all it took was maybe an hour out of his life to come talk to us in a garage.
It doesn’t take a lot for these guys to do it. They can do it one day a week, just pick a school. If they did that four or five times during an offseason, you would touch hundreds of kids’ lives.
Question of the week
From Larry and Patricia Alvarez: What was your most memorable game as a Bulldog quarterback?
It’s probably the Oregon State game (a 44-24 Fresno State victory in 2001 over Sports Illustrated’s preseason No. 1 team), just because of how highly ranked they were coming in.
I had actually gone to an Elite 11 football camp that summer with the quarterback at Oregon State. It was cool because when I went there to the camp, I was throwing balls against him, and you just don’t know how you match up against another team. They had just come off a big win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, so you go to that thing like, “Are we going to be outmatched in this thing?” and I actually felt great after I left there. I threw with him and I felt pretty confident.
I went back and told our guys, “We can beat these guys.” I remember all offseason we were really stoked for that game and then to have that opportunity at home, which was awesome, to have a team come in that highly ranked. To get that “W” was great and to see the goal posts get carried out of the stadium. … I remember being down on the field after the game with all my family and friends. People I had gone to fourth grade with were down there. It was an awesome experience.
That was a long time ago and I still remember certain plays. They still stick out to me. I remember little things. I remember the mud on Rodney Wright’s helmet when he was running this fade that I ended up throwing inside. He made a great play on it, but I remember this little piece of grass. I’m watching him run down the field, like, “Why is that mud on his helmet?” Just random little nonsense. But it was a really cool game, awesome for the city, just a great experience. I wish Bulldog fans can get a taste of that every week because it was pretty awesome.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
Win a football autographed by David Carr
Each week, David will answer one reader’s question in this column – and that lucky reader will receive an NFL autograph football signed by David! Post your question as a comment on the column at www.fresnobee.com/sports/nfl.