PHILADELPHIA -- New York Giants co-owner John Mara's recent comments about the emotional response Colin Kaepernick's protest drew from his team's fans caught the attention of Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith, who said his former quarterback is being blackballed and treated more harshly than players in the league who have committed crimes.
Mara recently told The MMQB that he received a number of "emotional" letters from fans saying that if any Giants players protest the way Kaepernick did, by kneeling during the national anthem, they would never come to another game.
Smith fired off a number of Twitter posts in response on Monday, which led to a deeper conversation about the subject in the Eagles' locker room Tuesday.
It's amazing what folks consider going too far..you can do all kinds of crazy things and get a 2nd chance but you can't get over a protest? https://t.co/raCwpONRdq— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) May 29, 2017
My issue really isn't just the hate on Kap...it's what folks prioritize as wrong....hit a woman cool...sexual assault cool...kneel OH NO— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) May 29, 2017
"I heard he's one of the best owners in the league, so I don't want people to think I'm disrespecting this guy. I'm not," Smith said after practice. "But it's just the fact that he commented about people, the fans, being mad about that but you just had a [kicker] on your team who you were trying to hold onto for dear life until it was too late."
Smith was referencing kicker Josh Brown, whom the Giants re-signed despite a domestic violence allegation against him. They ultimately released Brown in October.
"People are accepting and willing to [forgive] people when they beat the hell out of women, sell drugs, do whatever and commit all kinds of crimes and you're able to forget that," Smith said. "I'm a believer in second chances. I believe in second chances for a guy like [Bengals rookie] Joe Mixon, even though I'm an advocate against domestic violence.
"But I think you have to be open-minded to know that [Kaepernick] did not commit a crime, he didn't hurt anybody, he didn't do anything. It was a protest, and now people are kind of locking him out or don't want to support anybody that's associated with him when you're willing to support people who beat women, do all kinds of other crazy things. It just doesn't make sense."
Kaepernick chose to sit and later kneel during the national anthem before games last season as a protest against social injustice. He opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers earlier in the offseason and has yet to sign with another team. He recently visited with the Seattle Seahawks, but to this point no agreement is in place.
Asked if he thought Kaepernick is being blackballed, Smith responded: "I mean, I think so. But I think there's different ways to look at blackballed. I mean, you can say a team doesn't want to bring him in because they think he may be a backup. I think he can play. This time of the year, there's 96 quarterbacks-plus. ... You can't tell me there's 96 quarterbacks better than him. When you look at it that simply, it doesn't make sense."
Sources have told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Kaepernick will stand for the national anthem this season, as he no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change he believes has been created.