NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris doesn’t agree with Colin Kaepernick decision to protest during the national anthem, saying players 40 years ago wouldn’t have allowed him to act that way.
During an interview with Mediaite’s John Ziegler, the former Steelers running back was asked if he believed Kaepernick has been blackballed by NFL organizations for his decision to kneel during the national anthem before football games last year. The quarterback has remained unsigned since opting out of his contract with the 49ers in March.
Harris said Kaepernick is free to voice his personal opinion on issues, but he could have done so without involving the NFL.
When asked how his teammates from the 1970s and 1980s would have handled Kaepernick’s protesting, Harris suggested they wouldn’t have tolerated it.
“We had two of the meanest guys in football, who I think would’ve dealt with it that way, and that would’ve been Joe Greene and Jack Lambert,” Harris said.
Harris said while he believes there are unresolved social issues in the U.S., it is very important to respect our nation’s flag.
“If someone has a certain stance they want to take, that’s fine,” Harris said. “When he puts that suit on, it’s not just about him, his position and the things that he wants to back and wants to believe in because the team has to come first.”
Harris isn’t the first NFL legend to comment on the Kaepernick situation. Last week, Hall of Famer Jim Brown told Browns players he wanted them to stand during the national anthem and show their support for the American flag.
“Colin has to make up his mind whether he’s truly an activist or he’s a football player,” Brown said. “Football is commercial. You have owners. You have fans. And you want to honor that if you’re making that kind of money.”
“I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American,” he added. “I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem. I’m going to work on those situations. But this is my country, and I’ll work out the problems, but I’ll do it in an intelligent manner.”
Several current players, on the other hand, have spoken out in favor of Kaepernick.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he believes the former 49er should be on an NFL roster and isn’t “because of his protests.”
On Tuesday, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said it’s “unfair” that Kaepernick hasn’t been signed.
Broncos pass rusher Von Miller agreed, saying, “It’s not 64 quarterbacks that are better than him, and I feel like in the National Football League, that’s what it’s about.”