The NFL issued a statement Saturday saying that its players are “encouraged but not required” to stand during the playing of the National Anthem before games.
The statement was made after 49ers Colin Kaepernick sat during Friday's singing of the anthem. He told the NFL Network afterward that he didn't want to "show pride in a flag and for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color."
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been outspoken on his Twitter and Instagram account about racial issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement, over the last eight months.
Kaepernick has not been on his feet during the first two games, according to a team source, but few noticed because he was not in uniform for those games.
During the 1990s, NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended for one game for refusing to stand during the National Anthem because he said it conflicted with his religious beliefs. It does not sound as if Kaepernick will face any NFL discipline for his actions.
The 49ers, meanwhile, issued the following statement after Friday's game.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” it reads. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”