SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Colin Kaepernick hit back Monday night at accusations of selfishness leveled at him by ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, describing the criticism as "ridiculous."
Dilfer attacked Kaepernick on ESPN's Sunday pregame show over the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback’s ongoing protest against social injustice and police brutality, one that sees him kneel for the national anthem before games.
"I think that’s one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve heard," Kaepernick told reporters following the 49ers' 28-0 victory against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. "The fact (Dilfer) says, 'You are a backup QB, stay in your place.' That’s an issue.
"To me, you are telling me that my position as a backup QB and being quiet is more important than people’s lives. I would ask him to really have a conversation with the families of people that have been murdered and see if he still feels that way. Because I bet that he doesn’t, just because he hasn’t experienced that type of oppression.
"I hope he goes home and really thinks about what he said and how it impacts not just (him) but how it impacts people whose lives are affected by these issues on a daily basis."
Kaepernick’s actions have generated a swath of attention and prompted similar protests from other players around the NFL. Players from several teams took a knee during the anthem on Sunday, raised a fist, or, in the case of the Seattle Seahawks, stood with arms interlinked.
However, the protests have also enraged sections of the population who feel that refusing to stand for the anthem in a typical manner before games is a sign of disrespect.
Dilfer’s blast was even more pointed, as the former quarterback said that Kaepernick "is a backup QB whose job is be quiet and sit in the shadows," while claiming that the controversy has "torn at the fabric of the team." Several 49ers players have said that Kaepernick’s stance has actually helped team unity. Safety Eric Reid knelt with Kaepernick on Monday night, while teammates Antoine Bethea and Eli Harold raised a fist. Rams players Kenny Britt and Robert Quinn also raised their right fists.
Kaepernick said he was deeply moved by the level of support from players around the league and insisted he would not be deterred by the continuing furor.
"Nothing has ever been done without criticism," he added. "Every great change, whether it is revolution or evolution of things, there is always criticism and there is always that 'I don’t like change' kind of mentality.
"In the long run they will see what is going on, they will see what is right, and they will understand."