SAN DIEGO -- Less than a week after a nearly 20-minute interview about his decision to sit during the national anthem, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick again stood in front of the media and answered questions for almost 17 minutes.
Kaepernick talked about why he chose to switch from sitting to kneeling, what he plans to do to help the causes he's drawing attention to, and a variety of other subjects.
Below is the complete transcript. Some questions were difficult to hear and have been paraphrased:
How’d it feel to get back out there?
Kaepernick: It was great. It felt good to be back on the field, a real more successful outing than the last one. I felt like we got in a rhythm offensively, had a couple of long drives, the offensive line was doing a great job up front. The receivers and tight ends were making plays. Things went well.
What did it mean to you to have Eric Reid join?
CK: It was amazing. Me and Eric had many conversations and he approached me and said 'I support what you’re doing, I support what your message is, let’s think about how we can do this together.' We talked about it at length and we wanted to make sure the message that we’re trying to send isn’t lost with the actions that come along with it.
What did you think about getting booed so much in a military-heavy town like San Diego?
CK: I think it’s a misunderstanding. The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-men and women of the military, and that’s not the case at all. I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put their selves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee, so I have the utmost respect for them and I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.
What is your message your trying to convey?
CK: The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to life, and we need to fix those.
Are you disappointed that the message seems to be getting lost?
CK: I think that’s something that’s hard for this country to address, is what the real issues are and coming to the point where we can admit that these are issues. Once we admit that, we can deal with it, we can fix them and we can make this country and these communities a better place.
Yeah, it is disappointing, because it takes us farther away from the end goal, which is making the communities in this country a better place.
Are you planning to go further with this than just kneeling during the anthem?
CK: Yes, I am planning to take it a step further. I’m currently working with organizations to be involved and making sure that I’m actively in these communities, as well as donating the first million dollars I make this year to different organizations to help these communities and help these people.
The Alameda County Sheriff's office has invited you to their police academy, are you considering going?
CK: Yeah, I’m most definitely considering it. The SFPD has had a lot of issues, and I think one of the issues that needs to be addressed is the racist text messages that have been passed back and forth between PD members, not only talking about the community, but also talking about colleagues that work in the same department as them.
Why do you want to donate that $1 million, and why take a knee instead of sit?
CK: It was something I was thinking about to try to make sure that I’m not just talking about something, but I’m actively being involved and actively trying to make a change in these communities. And, I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and be able to make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people. I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed. As far as taking a knee tonight, Eric as well as myself had a long conversation with Nate Boyer, who is a military vet. And we were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are. As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee because there are issues that still need to be addressed and there was also a way to show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country.
What was it about Nate Boyer's letter that made you want to talk to him?
CK: It was really just the feelings he had. It was the observation and how he felt, and as I talked to him, as we had that conversation, those are discussions that this country needs to have. While I was talking to him, he mentioned 22 military vets a day commit suicide. But this country will let those vets go and fight the war for them, but when they come back, they won’t do anything to try to help them. That’s another issue. And these issues need to be addressed.
Are there any religious overtones to taking a knee?
CK: No, there was no religious overtones with that.
You decided to stand and clapped for "God Bless America," what is it about that that's different from the national anthem?
CK: Once again, I’m not anti-American. I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better. I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from. Those conversations are important to have, because the better we understand each other, the better we know each other, the better we can deal and communicate with each other, which ultimately makes everyone, puts everybody in a better position.
Seahawks CB Jeremy Lane sat during the national anthem tonight, did you know about that?
CK: I didn’t know that, but I’m very happy, I’m very proud of him for doing that. I think there are a lot of people that know the issues and want to address them. I think one of the issues is going about it the right way and also having a clear course of action, which I’ve had a lot of conversations this week with a lot of different people and trying to plan those things out so we can say 'these are the courses of action we want to take' and be very clear and concise with those actions.
Can you tell us what organizations you are working with?
CK: There are a lot that we’re currently working with and trying to figure out what the best way to go about this and what we can actively do. I really don’t want to get into specifics as far as organizations, but we’ve had a lot of discussions in that area.
Is this taking away from football?
CK: No, my day is spent with my teammates in meetings at practice. I spend 10, 11, 12 hours a day on football. This is something that we’re doing in our personal lives as far as taking a stance and trying to fight for people’s rights.
What’s the dream result from all of this?
CK: The dream result would be equality, justice for everybody. This is really something about human rights, it’s about the people. This isn’t about anything other than that, and some people aren’t given the same rights, aren’t given the same opportunities as others, and that’s really what the issue is.
Has the team offered support this week?
CK: Most definitely. I have seen my team grow a lot this week, and it is the open discussion, because I think in a lot of cases there’s barriers up, because you don’t know my background, I don’t know yours and we just assume things based on race, based on where you’re from, based on what your past is. We can’t do that. We have to have these conversations. We have to understand each other better and ultimately that brings us closer together, which I’ve seen with my team.
How many players have reached out to you in support?
CK: I’ve had numbers of players do that. I think there are a lot of conversations happening, not only in NFL locker rooms but around the country. I’ve also had friends that aren’t on football teams say 'I respect what you’re doing, I support you' and I’ve had more conversations about human rights and oppression and things that need to change in the last week than I’ve had in my entire life. And the fact that those conversations are happening is a start.
What did spending time with fans and signing autographs after the game do for you?
CK: It really meant a lot that those people came out and supported me tonight. I think they knew it wasn’t going to be an ideal situation or circumstance, because some people might not completely understand what I’m trying to do, but I love being with people and the fact they were out there, they were excited, it genuinely made me happy and I wanted to try to show my appreciation by going over and talking to them and showing my support for them.
Did anybody say anything that stuck with you?
CK: More than anything, the people were just saying 'We support you, we’re with you, don’t let anybody deter you from what you’re trying to do.' I think that sticks with me, because a lot of those people are the people that I want to give equal opportunities to.
How much do you want to keep your job with the 49ers?
CK: This is a phenomenal organization and I’ve had great conversations here. I’ve had great memories here, and this team has given me the opportunity to become the man I am today and I’m grateful for that, I’m thankful for that, and San Francisco has become my home.
Do you think the chances of you leaving has lessened recently after conversations with teammates and maybe the front office?
CK: I hope it’s lessened. I’ve had conversation with people. They really do understand what I’m trying to do and who I am trying to help, and I think that’s huge. Understanding each other is a big step toward treating each other the right way and getting towards that goal of equality.
How long do you plan to continue kneeling during the national anthem?
CK: I think at this point it will continue to be taking a knee. As far as how long this goes, I’m not sure. I want to be able to affect change, and I think there are a lot of other people that want to as well, and organizing that and making sure that we can help each other out and make the biggest impact that we can in these communities and in people’s lives, I think when that happens, I think a lot of people will really influence me to stand.
Do you think this is a distraction for your team?
CK: I don’t think it’s a distraction at all. Like we talked about earlier, it’s really brought our team closer. We’ve gotten closer to each other on a personal level, so we understand each other better and we go out on the field and fight for each other, because we know we’re fighting for the same thing. I think it showed tonight that our team is willing to fight for each other, we’re willing to go out and play hard, and that it hasn’t distracted us from football.
What did you think of the veterans and military who supported you?
CK: When I first had that sent to me and I saw that, it really touched me, because they didn’t get lost in what it was portrayed as. They really heard me for what I was trying to do, and the fact that military veterans acknowledged that, it really meant a lot to me and it’s something that I want to be able to help them as well, because they are in need.
The socks that were worn (with the pigs in police hats), was that not negative?
CK: No, that was once again, we have cops that are murdering people. We have cops in the SFPD that are blatantly racist and those issues need to be addressed. I have uncles, I have friends who are cops and I have great respect for them, because they are doing it for the right reason and they genuinely want to protect and help people. That’s not the case with all cops, and the cops that are murdering people and are racist are putting other cops in danger, like my family, like my friends. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed.