Thursday’s roundup: Kaepernick kneels during anthem
San Diego — Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid kneeled during the national anthem Thursday night, continuing the quarterback’s preseason protest of American racial injustice and minority oppression.
Kaepernick and Reid dropped to one knee while a naval officer sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and dozens of military members unfurled an oversized flag at the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium.
Kaepernick and Reid received scattered boos when they dropped to a knee amid a crowd of teammates, but the protest was otherwise unremarked by the San Diego crowd. The 49ers’ visit coincided with the annual Salute to the Military exhibition game for the Chargers, who have strong fan support in their city’s extensive armed forces community.
Kaepernick got much heavier boos when he took the field to start the game for the 49ers and immediately led them on a 16-play, 85-yard touchdown drive. The veteran quarterback is attempting to regain the starting job that he lost last season, and he likely helped his cause with a 103-yard passing performance while playing the entire first half in the 49ers’ 31-21 victory over the Chargers.
Kaepernick’s protest has dominated the public discussion of the nation’s most popular sport this week, and his stance has been met with equally passionate condemnation and support. His refusal to stand for the anthem first came to public notice last week when he remained seated on the 49ers’ bench before a preseason game against Green Bay.
When Kaepernick left the field following pregame warm-ups, he was greeted with profanity and obscene gestures from Leo Uzcategui, a 20-year Navy veteran in a military-green Chargers jersey with quarterback Philip Rivers’ No. 17 in camouflage numbering.
“I was in the Navy and I saw men and women bleed and die for this flag,” Uzcategui said. “If he wants to do something, go to some outreach program where he can do some good. And I get it, his First Amendment right. But you don’t sit during the presenting of the colors, and you don’t sit during the national anthem. That is not the way to do it.”
Domenique Banks, a 23-year-old fan from nearby Oceanside, California, got the quarterback to sign his Kaepernick jersey before the game.
“I told him I appreciate what he is standing up for,” Banks said. “He said he appreciated it. Most of the people I talk to say the same thing. I don’t like that he is sitting during the national anthem, but I appreciate what he is standing for.”
Kaepernick said he had invited teammates to sit with him during the anthem, but didn’t expect any to join him. His invitation apparently was accepted by Reid, the 49ers’ starting safety and a fourth-year veteran from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Reid, who wasn’t in uniform for the game, had been publicly supportive of Kaepernick’s stance.
One sign in the crowd read: “You’re an American. Act like one.”
In Oakland, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat on the bench behind his standing teammates as the national anthem was performed before Seattle’s game against the Raiders.
Kaepernick kneeled next to Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret who went to training camp with the Seahawks last year as a long snapper. Boyer, who wrote a conciliatory open letter to Kaepernick earlier this week, had a long conversation with the quarterback about his stance this week. He posted a photo of the two on Twitter with a caption reading, “Let’s just keep moving forward. This is what America should be all about.”
When the same naval officer performed “God Bless America” before the fourth quarter, Kaepernick remained standing and then applauded along with his teammates.
Kaepernick’s visit to San Diego fell on the Chargers’ 28th annual Salute to the Military, a night designed to pay tribute to the tens of thousands of active and retired military personnel who live in the area. The festivities included pregame music from the Marine Band San Diego, halftime recognition of Vietnam War veterans, and a crowd filled with numerous injured soldiers invited as special guests.
Kaepernick has said he doesn’t intend his stance to be a criticism of the military, claiming he has “great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country.”
When the Chargers’ public-address announcer asked fans to recognize active military personnel during a timeout, the quarterback stood and enthusiastically applauded along with his teammates and the entire stadium.
Kaepernick remained on the field in San Diego for 15 minutes after the game ended and his teammates went to the locker room, signing dozens of autographs and posing for selfies with Niners fans.
Kaepernick’s social activism, which only emerged publicly in recent weeks, also included support for the Black Lives Matter movement through social media.
While negative reaction to the quarterback has been strong, Kaepernick also has been widely praised for his commitment to his stance. Veterans and military members tweeted their support for Kaepernick in recent days under the hashtag “VeteransForKaepernick.”
Jim Brown voiced support for Kaepernick while disagreeing with his method of protest. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called Kaepernick’s decision “highly patriotic” while encouraging him to take further steps to build dialogue between law enforcement and blacks.
Amid the uproar of his emerging social activism, Kaepernick is still trying to win a job with the 49ers less than four years after leading them to the Super Bowl. The quarterback lost the starting job last season, and he hasn’t separated himself from Blaine Gabbert this summer under new coach Chip Kelly.
Gabbert wasn’t expected to play in the San Diego finale because he had already played much more in the preseason than Kaepernick, who didn’t appear until San Francisco’s third exhibition game.
Brady plays a half for Patriots
With a four-game suspension for his role in the “Deflategate” scandal beginning in just a few days, Tom Brady had an NFL going-away party Thursday night, playing the first half in the New England Patriots’ preseason finale against the New York Giants.
Brady completed 16 of 26 passes for 166 yards, a touchdown and an interception as the Patriots (3-1) missed out a perfect preseason in a 17-9 loss to the Giants (2-2).
“I was happy I was able to play as much as I did,” Brady said. “It was a good opportunity to get out there and play. We did a decent job of moving the ball, but we turned it over too many times.”
Brady showed flashes in his second preseason game of the season. He completed five passes between 16 and 38 yards, but only one drive resulted in a score, a 7-yard TD toss to Keshawn Martin. Two others, including one in the red zone, were ended by lost fumbles. His sixth and final series was a knee at the half.
The two-time NFL MVP begins a four-game suspension Saturday for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the 2014 AFC championship game. He won’t be eligible to rejoin the active roster until Oct. 3, leaving the team in the hands of Jimmy Garoppolo.
“I haven’t thought about it much,” Brady said. “I always take it as it comes and do the best that I could do.”
New England opens the season on Sept. 11 at Arizona. The Giants are at Dallas.
Brady’s absence will mark the first regular-season games he’s missed since 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the season opener.
Ryan Nassib threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King for the Giants and set up Randy Bullock’s 25-yard field goal. Logan Thomas tossed a 17-yard fourth quarter TD to Roger Lewis Jr. after New England got a 32-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski earlier in the quarter, cutting the lead to 10-9.
A three-time Super Bowl MVP, Brady was sharpest on his fourth series, leading the team on a nine-play, 77-yard drive. He hit 6 of 7 passes and scrambled for 10 yards on the march, but had to throw the ball away on a 2-point conversion pass.
Brady had New England at the Giants 19 on the next series before running back D.J. Foster fumbled a screen pass.
Unlike many of the players, Brady had nothing to prove in this game. He spent the final half sitting on the bench.
The last time Brady played in a preseason finale was 2014, when he held for an extra point just to see if he can do it. His last start in a preseason finale was in 2011, a year the Patriots went to the Super Bowl — and lost to the Giants.
Brady is not allowed to have contact with the Patriots or utilize team facilities during his suspension.
Jets QB hurt
Jets quarterback Bryce Petty threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson before injuring his shoulder, but a pair of big plays helped the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Jets 14-6 Thursday night.
Paul Turner returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown and Ed Reynolds took an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Eagles (4-0) complete an undefeated preseason for the first time since 2012, when they finished 4-12 in Andy Reid’s last season as coach.
Petty tossed a perfect strike down the right sideline that Anderson caught in stride after beating JaCorey Shepherd. But the second-year pro took a hard shot on the play and left with a shoulder injury. Petty didn’t return even though the Jets said he was probable to come back.
Petty said X-rays on his right shoulder were negative and he’s scheduled for an MRI on Friday.
Petty’s injury could solve New York’s quarterback dilemma. Geno Smith, a former starter, is expected to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick for the second straight season. Rookie Christian Hackenberg is a second-round pick, so his spot should be secure. The Jets (1-3) are considering keeping all four quarterbacks on the roster, but Petty could end up on injured reserve.
Petty, a fourth-round pick in 2015, was 4 of 6 for 87 yards.
“I definitely want to be here,” Petty said.
Hackenberg followed an up-and-down debut against the Giants last week with an awful performance. He was 11 of 31 for 54 yards and one pick. Hackenberg made a poor throw while being hit by Bryan Braman, and Reynolds reached down to intercept it and ran it back 90 yards.