‘To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way…’
The phrase is already widely circulated on T-shirts and other clothing items, and if the trademark effort is successful, it could appear on major athletic wear companies’ designs.
Kaepernick’s new slogan stems from his collusion lawsuit against the National Football League, alleging that multiple team owners worked to keep him out of the NFL.
The NFL has denied the accusation, arguing Kaepernick remained unsigned for reasons unrelated to his political beliefs.
Kaepernick pioneered the refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest of what he deems wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the U.S.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick’s refusal to stand immediately immersed him in controversy, with many calling it “disrespectful.”
His former coach with the 49ers, Chip Kelly, said his decision was his “right as a citizen” and said “it’s not my right to tell him not to do something.”
The 49ers, however, released a statement in support of the national anthem: “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”