Last month, Colin Kaepernick sparked a national controversy by refusing to stand for the national anthem as part of a protest against the treatment of minorities in America. Kaepernick has since modified his protest – he is now kneeling as opposed to sitting – and has been joined by several other professional athletes, including women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
While Kaepernick has been vilified in some circles, he has been applauded in others. Brandon Marshall, for one, understands both sides.
“I think that the flag means something different to everyone,” the Jets Pro Bowl receiver said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “When I see the flag, I see a bunch of fights. It’s what America has overcome, (what) the people have overcome. Whether it’s the Civil Rights Movement back in the ’40s, ’50s and earlier in the 1800s, sex trafficking, sex slavery, immigration law, women’s rights – that flag means so much to so many different people. It’s not about one group. It’s not about black, it’s not about white; it’s about all those fights. I can’t wait to get on Showtime tonight to dive a little deeper there.”
Marshall is a panelist on “Inside The NFL” with James Brown, Boomer Esiason, Michael Irvin and Phil Simms. The new season premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.
“I will say that I am a little shocked that there wasn’t more people standing up and saying he is a patriot,” Marshall aded. “That’s what a patriot is. He stands up for the people and what they believe in. He fights for someone else. To me, Colin is doing a (patriotic) thing. But a lot of people have said on TV and radio the last couple weeks (that) the message was kind of diluted because of not standing and that became the message, whether he’s against America. Is he for it or what’s going on? Because that’s not even the topic. That’s a distraction.”
As for play on the field, the 49ers are not expected to contend in the NFC West, while the Jets are seeking their first playoff appearance since 2010. They went 10-6 last year but lost a tie-breaker to the Steelers and missed the postseason. Marshall believes the Jets can get the job done this year, in part because of their head coach. Todd Bowles isn’t the most rah-rah guy in the world, but he absolutely has the respect of his players.
“He’s the same guy in front of the cameras and off camera,” Marshall said. “Same exact guy. That’s the soothing part and the most powerful part about his demeanor. We know who we’re going to get every single day, every single week. I guess the thing that people don’t see is how competitive he is because of his demeanor. He’s so quiet and you could say he’s an introvert, maybe. But this guy is super competitive. I think that’s the thing that’s really overlooked. A lot of times, you really don’t know who a coach is, what he stands for. The other thing that can probably get overlooked is how bright he is. I think he’s one of the smartest coaches in all of football. He knows every aspect of the game. He’s one of the hardest-working guys. He’s at our facility at 4 a.m. Not getting up at 4 a.m. He’s at the facility at 4 a.m. working. When you have a coach that approaches the game that way, it’s a trickle-down effect. You’ll see our team in those crucial moments during situational football where you win the game, we’ll be poised as well. That helps in those moments.”
Of course, it also helps having Marshall in big moments. Marshall had 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first season in New York, and he expects a similar campaign in 2016. In fact, he expects a strong showing from the offense overall, despite the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick turns 34 in November and Matt Forte turns 31 in December.
“Oh, man, we’re all old, man,” the 32-year-old Marshall said, laughing. “Receivers are old, quarterback is old, offensive line is old, running back is old. (But) it’s not about the physical parts. It’s about do you know your job? Can you do your job? We believe we have the guys that can do their job no matter their age. Guys are still playing at an extremely high level. . . . I’m expecting big things out of our offense.”
The Jets open against the Bengals this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.