But the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback's silent protest has just received the sports co-sign that arguably carries the most weight because it's from none other than Tommie Smith.
The retired sprinter along with teammate John Carlos became the ultimate Olympic activists during the 1968 Games in Mexico City, where they courageously raised their fists to give the Black Power salute during the playing of the national anthem of their medal ceremony.
Nearly 50 years later, Smith, now 72, is in full support of Kaepernick's stance.
“Colin is 28 years old and realizing that things are not quite like what 'they' said it would be,” Smith told USA Today Sports on Tuesday. “He’s just speaking out (but) he used a platform that many Americans don’t agree with."
Smith added: “He’s being vilified in how he brings the truth out. I support him because he’s bringing the truth out — regardless of how done. If it’s not done violently, at least he should be heard.”
Smith continued, saying he hopes athletes see Kaepernick's stance and also use their respective platforms to help spark change, too.
“Hopefully this is the age of awakening — or you could call it the age of re-awakening,” Smith said. “These guys are beginning to stand up. They see, 'Oh my goodness gracious, that pertains to me.’ By them (speaking out), things keep rolling. Otherwise, the streets are going to rule. We can’t let that happen."
After making his silent protest during a Friday night preseason game, the 49ers' QB defended his actions while speaking with a pool of reporters on Sunday.
"This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all — and it's not happening for all right now," Kaepernick said, explaining his stance, as reported by NBC.
He added to his protest explanation, touching on the rash of police brutality incidents involving African-Americans.
"This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice, people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change," Kaepernick continued. "So I'm in a position where I can do that, and I'm going to do that for people that can't."
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(Photos from left: Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Universal History Archive/Getty Images)