Falcons' Ben Garland, Air Force captain, weighs in on Colin Kaepernick protest

Golic's initial reaction to Kaepernick: rage (2:16)

Mike Golic discusses his initial reaction to Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem and says he can relate to people who are upset but also believes it wasn't the quarterback's intention to offend branches of the U.S. military. (2:16)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The national anthem carries added significance for Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Ben Garland, who is a captain in the Air National Guard.

The hot topic in the NFL is Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit through the anthem in protest of the treatment of minorities, a stance the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback vowed to continue until change occurs.

Garland didn't exactly condemn Kaepernick's actions. He didn't condone them, either.

"The national anthem means a lot to me, coming from an Air Force background and a military background," Garland said. "I've had a lot of friends who have lost their lives fighting for the flag. But they also fought for that freedom for (Kaepernick) to speak his mind.

"I don't agree with it completely, but we fought for that freedom as well."

Garland is captain in the National Guard. He fulfills his commitment immediately after the team's offseason program is complete. Garland, who played defensive line for the Air Force Academy, is stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado.

"It's a great opportunity," Garland said. "I wear the best two uniforms in the world."

Garland and the rest of his teammates heard a speech from Falcons coach Dan Quinn Sunday regarding taking a stance on social issues. Quinn's message was to stand behind each other, but to also use the correct platform to state your cause.

Like Garland, Quinn wasn't quick to judge Kaepernick. The coach simply emphasized his strong belief in what the national anthem and flag represents.

New Falcons safety Dashon Goldson was a teammate of Kaepernick's in San Francisco. Goldson offered his take.

"I understand it's a touchy subject for a lot of people," Goldson said. "I respect what the flag represents, and that's just me. He's entitled to his own opinion and his rights. I'll just leave it at that."