Barack Obama's Controversial 2016 Message to Colin Kaepernick Resurfaces

With ongoing protests about systemic racism and police brutality, there are many NFL players and viewers alike making comments about Colin Kaepernick and how the league reacted to his kneeling. One person, however, brought up a different reaction that occurred in 2016. They mentioned the time that President Barack Obama told the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback to "think about the pain" he was causing military families.

Obama made the quote during a 2016 CNN Town Hall with members of the military. Someone asked him about Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem before 49ers games. Obama initially defended the QB while saying that "We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with." However, he also delivered a longer answer that many viewed as controversial.

"Sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other," Obama said. "So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing."

This portion of the answer created some controversy considering that President Donald Trump, who was a candidate at the time, had told Kaepernick to "find another country." However, Obama continued to discuss the issue and provided a counterpoint. He said that he wants people to think about the pain that Kaepernick may be expressing about somebody who's lost a loved one that they feel was unfairly shot.

There were comments in 2016 about how Kaepernick was "disrespecting the military" with his peaceful protests. He actually took the idea to kneel from a former Green Beret. Kaepernick had initially sat during the national anthem, but Nate Boyer met up with him after writing an open letter and provided the idea to kneel out of respect.


"We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammates," Boyer said during an episode of Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. "Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother's grave, you know, to show respect. When we're on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security."

Boyer said that Kaepernick was "receptive" of the idea and asked him to kneel with him. The ex-Green Beret said that he had to stand with his hand on his heart because that's "just what he does" but promised to stand next to Kaepernick while he kneeled. Boyer said he received considerable criticism and some hurtful comments, but he also had some positive discussions with fellow members of the Special Forces that hadn't previously considered Kaepernick's viewpoint.