Colin Kaepernick's former 49ers teammate -- and one of the most respected voices in the NFL -- noted that many people will disagree with the quarterback's national anthem protest, but said they must respect his right to do so.
"Even if you don’t agree with what someone does, you still have to respect their opinion and how they feel about something," receiver Anquan Boldin told the Detroit Free Press after Saturday's Lions game. "You can agree or disagree with it but you still have to respect it. That’s the right that we have as Americans, and that’s the great part about being an American."
When Boldin arrived in Santa Clara in 2013, he developed an instant on-field chemistry with Kaepernick. He was the team's leading receiver over the last three seasons. In February he was voted the Walter Payton Man of the Year, which honors both his on-field performance and his charitable work. Boldin became a free agent in March and signed with Detroit in the summer.
Boldin's voice is noteworthy on this topic because his cousin, Corey Jones, was shot and killed by a police officer in Florida last year while Jones was waiting for roadside assistance on the side of a highway. Kaepernick has become interested in the Black Lives Matter movement, telling the NFL Network Friday that he can't "look the other way" while "there are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
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Kaepernick has been seated during the singing of recent national anthems, he said, because he refuses to show pride in a flag of a country that oppresses black people.
Jones, 31, was a well-known musician and worked two jobs, including for the Delray Beach Housing Authority. He was on the phone with roadside assistance when a plainclothes Palm Beach Gardens officer in an unmarked van, Nouman Raja, stopped to investigate what he thought was an abandoned vehicle around 3:15 a.m.
Raja, 38, fired six shots at Jones, two of which struck and killed Boldin's cousin. In June Raja was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder. Details of the incident can be found here.
In an October interview with The Bee, Boldin said he's not anti-police and that he and his Pahokee-Fla.-based foundation have a good working relationship with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department. But he also lamented that there are some officers who should not have a badge and gun.
“I want my son to grow up respecting law enforcement, not fearing, ‘If I break down, I can’t call the police’ or, ‘If I’m in a sticky situation, I can’t call the police,'" Boldin said in October. “The police are here to protect and serve. That’s what they’re sworn to do; that’s what they’re paid to do. My cousin wasn’t protected. They didn’t serve him. He needed assistance. But instead he got a death sentence."
Boldin told the Free Press he never spoke with Kaepernick about the quarterback's stance on the matter. Boldin, along with the rest of his Lions teammates, stood during the singing of the national anthem on Saturday. He said he at least respects Kaepernick's right to sit.
"I’m sure he’s going to get flak for it, what he did," Boldin said, 'but that’s the great thing about being in America, you have that option."