San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew the ire of police unions and NFL executives when he refused to stand for the national anthem last week. But in truth he was subtly slamming the police even before the NFL preseason began. He used his socks.
Since Aug. 10, Kaepernick has been taking the practice field wearing socks patterned with pigs in cop hats, CBS Sports reports.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche at the time. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The NFL front offices “can’t stand him” now, according to the Bleacher Report. The San Francisco police union called him “foolish.” And don’t even ask about the Twitter pitchfork brigade. It’s unclear what kind of response the sock revelation will earn ― the San Francisco Police Officers Association didn’t immediately return calls for comment.
Kaepernick took to Instagram on Thursday afternoon to defend his sock choice, calling out “rogue cops” who “put the community in danger.”
Following the anthem protest, he also criticized the training of police officers, telling The Washington Post:
“You can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”
He reportedly didn’t tell the 49ers about his planned anthem protest ― but as HuffPost’s Travis Waldron writes, Kaepernick is hardly the first to use sports as a soapbox:
The protest makes Kaepernick the latest athlete to use his platform to call attention to problems facing African-Americans across the country, particularly the issue of police killings. Four NBA stars ― Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Paul ― called attention to the issue in an on-stage speech at the ESPY Awards in July. Anthony has also marched in protests in Baltimore; and Wade and James, along with their then-Miami Heat teammates,donned hoodies to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2013.
Players from three WNBA teams wore shirts that bore the “Black Lives Matter” slogan during pre-game warmups in July. And during previous seasons, an assortment of NFL and NBA players have warmed up in T-shirts honoring African-Americans killed by police, and spoken out against police brutality after their games.
This story has been updated with Colin Kaepernick’s response to people noticing his socks.