SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Hours after he was booed for not standing for the national anthem before the San Francisco-San Diego Chargers pre-season game, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced he would be donating $1 million from his 2016 salary to charities who help troubled communities.
Kaepernick has ignited a national debate over his refusal to stand for the anthem in protest over officer-involved police shootings involving minorities.
He was joined on the sidelines Thursday night by his teammate Eric Reid and Seattle’s Jeremy Lane, who sat during the anthem at the Seahawks-Oakland Raiders game.
In an attempt to tone down some of the anger directed toward him, Kaepernick announced the donation and also was set to joined long-time community activist Rev. Amos Brown at a church service at San Francisco’s 3rd Baptist Church on Sunday.
“I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and to be able to make the kind of money I do,” Kaepernick said. “And I have to help these people. I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in a position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed.”
The veteran 49ers quarterback has a guaranteed $11.9 million salary this season.
Kaepernick took time also during his post-game news conference to attempt to refocus the message he is trying to get across with his protest. He said it was not that he is unpatriotic or is against the military.
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“I think it’s a misunderstanding,” he told reporters. “The media has painted this as I’m anti-American, anti- men and women of the military. That’s not the case at all.”
“The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people who are oppressed. We have a lot of people who aren’t treated equally,” he continued. “Police brutality is a huge issue that we need to address.”
Prior to Thursday night’s game, Kaepernick’s future with the 49ers appeared to be up in the air. He was injured and missed much of last season and has only played in two exhibition games this year.
But against the Chargers, Kaepernick took 34 offensive snaps – the most since his injury and shoulder surgeries.
He completed 11-of-18 passes for 103 yards, had four carries for 38 yards and led the 49ers on an opening scoring drive in their 31-21 exhibition win.
While the performance likely did not knock Blaine Gabbert out of the starter’s spot, it may have solidified him as the team’s No.2 quarterback.