There have been quite a few off-the-wall takes on the Colin Kaepernick controversy over the course of the last few days, but former NFL player/current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison just offered up a take that has just about everyone scratching their heads, regardless of how they feel about Kaepernick right now. During an appearance on a SportsTalk 790 show called "The Proper Gentlemen of Sports" out of Houston on Tuesday morning, Harrison was asked his opinion on Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem prior to a Packers/49ers preseason game on Friday night, and he started off by siding with the "Kaepernick shouldn’t have stayed seated during The Star-Spangled Banner" crowd.
"I think his heart is in the right place," Harrison said. "I just think he’s going about it the wrong way. And if he really wants to make change, sitting his butt down on the bench, that’s not going to change [anything]. That’s going to get people very upset, and he has to understand that. If you think you’re sitting against the national anthem, well, a lot of people really served before his time and are now trying to give him the freedoms and the liberties and the opportunities he has to be able to make the money that he has and the ability to speak and have a voice."
But then, Harrison took things in a completely different direction when he suggested that Kaepernick shouldn’t have done what he did because he’s "not black."
"I’m a black man, and Colin Kaepernick, he’s not black," Harrison said. "He cannot understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face or people of color face on an every single [day] basis when you walk in the grocery store and you might have $2000 or $3000 in your pocket and you go up into a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you’re about to steal something. I don’t think he faces those types of things that we face on a daily basis."
It was a really strange approach for Harrison to take because Kaepernick was born to a white mother and a black father before he was adopted by a white family as a child. So he is half-black. And when he was pressed to explain himself further, Harrison didn’t do a great job at it. He took this opinion in yet another direction (or rather, a series of directions) when he was asked to clarify his take on the situation:
I’m not saying that he has to be black. What I’m saying is, you know, I said his heart is in the right place, but even with what he’s doing, he still doesn’t understand the injustices that we face as a black man or people of color.
It’s one of those situations where it’s a very sensitive topic, and he has to understand, too, that right now, he’s in the midst of a quarterback battle. He’s in the midst of trying to keep a job. Sometimes, you have to look at the bigger picture. People will say, 'Well, maybe what he’s standing for is bigger than him winning the job,' or something like that. But my thing is, I look at the timing of the situation. Why is he doing it now? He’s in a quarterback battle. He’s fighting for his life. Yes, he’s guaranteed $11 million. But what happened to all this Colin Kaepernick talk when he was making $300,000? I guess it’s easier to sit there and say, 'I know I’m guaranteed $11 million. I made eight figures last year, so I’m set financially for the rest of my life. Now, I can get up and talk and feel like I have the freedom to say whatever I want.' But what happened to that three, four years ago when he was making little money? That’s my thing. It’s the timing.
And then, I was always taught by [Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick, 'Don’t cause distractions in the locker room. Don’t force your teammates to have to answer questions for you.' Now what is his teammates doing? They have to answer questions. It becomes a distraction, and this team frankly is not good enough to be able to handle trying to get better and to handle these distractions. I just think it’s not the right timing.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Harrison has apologized for what he said during the interview:
You can listen to what else Harrison had to say here: