Retired New York Giants star Michael Strahan made clear that he supports former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other football players kneeling for the national anthem ― and would do it himself if he was still playing in the NFL.
“I know why [Kaepernick] knelt was not in any disrespect to the military or anybody in the armed services, because I have an appreciation for that,” Strahan said on Ellen DeGerenes’ show on Monday, adding that his father was a retired major in the military.
“And when my father can look at me and tell me that he’s not offended by it and that he understands, then how could I — who didn’t do that service — be offended?” he said. “That’s one of the things you can do in this country — is you can protest — and [Kaepernick’s] protesting injustices that he sees happening.”
When DeGeneres asked Strahan, who ended his NFL career in 2008, if he would kneel if he was still with the league, Strahan answered, “I think I would have.”
“I would have had a conversation with my father and based on that conversation ― and conversations I’ve had with him ― I’m pretty sure I would have.”
Strahan, 46, also made clear that he admires Kaepernick, who is no longer in the league, for the protest movement he started back in 2016.
“I take my hat off to him because he really did sacrifice and put so much on the line for other people that he had no idea who they were,” Strahan said. “He never met them, did not know them, and he put his life and career on the line.”
Kaepernick began sitting, and later kneeling, during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick told NFL.com in 2016. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick, who is pursuing legal action against NFL owners he says conspired to keep him out of the league, recently was hired as the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” advertising campaign. The tagline is a nod to Kaepernick’s own journey and form of peaceful protest, as it says, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Kaepernick proclaimed his support for NFL players who took a knee during the league’s opening week.
“My Brothers @kstills and @ithinkisee12 continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed!” he tweeted. “They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Love is at the root of our resistance.”