University of Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is quite familiar with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. After all, the two of them were together with the 49ers for several years, culminating in a Super Bowl appearance.
But after Harbaugh moved on from the NFL to return to his alma matter in Ann Arbor, Kaepernick remained behind in San Francisco, and immediately stirred up controversy and debate following his decision to kneel during the national anthem in 2016 as a way to protest racism and police brutality.
A renewed focus on the subject has been swirling in the social unrest that’s followed the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last month, and Kaepernick’s former head coach says that he’s proud of what he’s done while speaking on the Jed Hughes Podcast.
“Colin really was the first person. Much like, I consider him now much like a Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, somebody that is that is first, that is leading,” Harbaugh said. “Just love him. Just so proud of him and everything that he does, stands for.”
“Colin Kaepernick, we talked about earlier, a great, great football player but he’s also a great man,” Harbaugh said. “And you got to listen to people, and really hear what you’re saying. Colin’s been on the right side of this for a long time and I remember some very early conversations when Colin had decided to take a knee during the national anthem and, and the person who’s first I mean they get they get so much backlash.
So like just for Colin, ‘I love you man,’ and then and then to listen to him to explain (your response is), ‘You really want to go out on this on this land like that? Because you’re getting and you’re gonna get so much backlash for this.’ And then to listen to him, you know, I became aware at that point, you know, from him, the inequities that go on in our society.”
And while Harbaugh didn’t initially agree with Kaepernick’s method of protest, he explained that he became more aware of the issues that were being brought to attention.
“I think back to our earliest conversations I had with Colin five years ago, and I was a lot like a lot of people in this, (thinking) ‘Colin it’s the flag, I mean, is this really what you want to be doing?’ And I came to learn that, that flag to a lot of people, that’s Old Glory. That’s the flag people have fought and died for that throughout our history to have our freedom and to have United States of America and what it is today. But also, a hundred years into our society or into our United States of America we still have slavery.To the American Indians, Native Americans, I mean … it’s not Old Glory to everybody is the point. I really learned that from Colin and his were peaceful protests, and he’s got the right to do that.”
Harbaugh participated in a peaceful protest in Ann Arbor earlier in the month, and even received a shoutout from former President Obama in the process.
“Whether that’s in a society, whether that’s in a family, or whether that’s in a football team. I will defend to the death somebody’s right to say that and to express themselves,” Harbaugh said. “And there’s no question we can — we need to get better. We need to be better. Police, policing, police brutality, it’s gotta get better, it’s got to improve. So I know that’s a lot being said there but really, I will say this: I love and I’m very proud of Colin Kaepernick and what he stood for and sacrificed personally to him, and he’s right.
“A lot of what he says is right, and I think a lot of … it’s pretty unanimous now around the country that those improvements need to be made.”
– – Quotes via Zach Shaw of 247Sports Link – –