Former NFL player and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison has apologized on Twitter after criticizing Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the national anthem while suggesting that the San Francisco 49ers quarterback is not black and doesn't truly understand racism.
In an interview with iHeartRadio, Harrison said Tuesday that Kaepernick has the right to stand for what he believes, but he "has to understand there might be consequences and might be backlash to what he's saying."
"I tell you this, I'm a black man. And Colin Kaepernick -- he's not black," Harrison said. "He cannot understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face, or people of color face, on an every single [day] basis. When you walk in a grocery store, and you might have $2,000 or $3,000 in your pocket and you go up into a Foot Locker and they're looking at you like you about to steal something.
"You know, I don't think he faces those type of things that we face on a daily basis."
Kaepernick, the biological child of a white mother and black father, was adopted and raised by white parents. He has been outspoken on his Twitter account on civil rights issues and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Harrison took to Twitter later Tuesday to apologize for the remarks, saying he "never even knew [Kaepernick] was mixed."
I never intended to offend anyone , I was trying to speak about my experiences as a African American.— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) August 30, 2016
I apologize to anyone that I offended , wasn't meant to be hurtful to anyone. God bless— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) August 30, 2016
Last point I want people to know. I never even knew he was mixed.— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) August 30, 2016
I should not have called Colin Kaepernick's race into question during this morning's radio interview. It was a mistake and I apologize.— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) August 30, 2016
Harrison will not be disciplined by NBC for his remarks and is expected to be on air for "Football Night in America" on Sept. 11, an NBC Sports executive told TMZ Sports.
Harrison said earlier Tuesday that he thinks Kaepernick's "heart is in the right place, I just think he's going about it the wrong way." He added that sitting during the national anthem isn't going to cause a change, and it will upset people who "served before his time" to "give him the freedoms, the liberties and the opportunities that he has to be able to make the money he has, the ability to speak and have a voice."
Harrison said Kaepernick should consider alternative ways of seeking change.
"If he really wants to make change, maybe what he needs to do is write a check out of that $11 million salary he's making and maybe donate it toward a cause or something like that, people that are fighting for injustices against people of color," Harrison said. "That's how you make change. And I'm not just saying writing a check, but just sitting against the national anthem you're offending a lot of people that sacrificed and died for the freedoms we have right now."
Harrison added: "I'm not saying that he has to be black. What I'm saying his heart is in the right place, but even what he's doing, he still doesn't understand the injustices that we face as a black man or people of color, that's what I'm saying. That's what I'm saying.
"It's one of those situations where it's a very sensitive topic and you know, right now, he has to understand, too, he's in the midst of a quarterback battle, he's in the midst of trying to keep a job, and sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. And people say, well maybe what he's standing for is bigger than him winning the job, or something like that. But my thing is I look at the timing of the situation. Why is he doing it now?"
Kaepernick is competing with Blaine Gabbert to be the 49ers' starting quarterback this season. Niners coach Chip Kelly said Tuesday afternoon that the organization has not considered releasing Kaepernick despite his controversial position on the anthem.
"He's in a quarterback battle, he's fighting for his life," Harrison said. "Yes, he's guaranteed $11 million; well, what happened to all this Colin Kaepernick talk when he was making $300,000? You know, I guess it's easier to sit there and say I know I'm guaranteed $11 million, I made eight figures last year, so I'm set financially for the rest of my life, now I can get up and talk and feel like I have the freedom to say whatever I want. But what happened to that ... years ago when he was making little money?
"See, that's my thing. It's the timing. ... I was always taught by [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick, don't cause distractions in the locker room, don't force your teammates to have to answer questions for you. Now what are his teammates doing? They have to answer questions. It becomes a distraction. And this team, frankly, is not good enough to handle trying to get better and to handle these distractions. I just think it's not the right timing."
Asked what Kaepernick's stance has done to the 49ers' locker room, Harrison said he believes his teammates understand Kaepernick's intentions are good, but again questioned the timing.
"I think it's one of those things where he just needs to address the team," Harrison said. "If I'm him and I feel strongly about something, I call a players-only meeting, I get in front of the team and say, 'Hey guys, this is what my thoughts are, you know, because I know there are a lot of kind of backdoor conversations, a lot of side conversations' and stuff like that.
"It can alienate your teammates, but it can also bring dissension in that locker room. And most guys understand what he's doing; it's like his heart and his intentions are good, but I don't think it's the right time right now, because it's the football season, they've got a lot of positive things going, why bring something like this to the forefront? Because you know there's going to be a lot of backlash with it."