Thursday, ESPN “First Take” co-host Max Kellerman shared his reaction to Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett comparing free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick to boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Kellerman admitted the two athletes are very different, but said the two are similar in that neither “went out looking for a protest.”
The ESPN personality then argued that Kaepernick did not inject politics into the NFL, but rather the NFL injects politics by playing the national anthem and “putting pressure” on people to stand.
Partial transcript as follows:
They both were asked to do things that went against their conscience. In this country, in the United States of America, you don’t have to do that. We are free to make our own choices. And if our conscience is bothering us, we can follow that.
In Muhammad Ali’s case, he was asked to take a step forward and become a part of the Vietnam War, and he was against it on religious and moral and ethical principles, and he refused to take the step and he faced five years jail time but was ultimately vindicated in a Supreme Court case. OK, but he did have his prime stripped, his license revoked and he couldn’t earn a living for four years, all that.
Colin Kaepernick also did not go looking for a protest. It came to him. He was asked to stand for the national anthem. You do not have to stand for the national anthem. And even if it it was a rule that you did, is that Colin Kaepernick injecting politics in the NFL? No. That’s the NFL injecting politics by playing the national anthem and putting pressure on you to stand for it in the first place.