GREEN BAY - Before each preseason opener, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy addresses his players about their decorum during the national anthem.
He didn’t give the specifics Monday about their annual conversation, but McCarthy’s expectations presumably are no different than most Americans'. In the minutes before kickoff, players customarily line up down their sideline as the anthem is played. Some sing. Some place hand over heart.
Each of them stands.
McCarthy would not directly speak to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit through the national anthem before Friday night’s exhibition against the Packers, but he called the controversy another “educational opportunity” for his players.
“We talk about the national anthem each and every year prior to our first preseason game,” McCarthy said, “and how we conduct ourselves during the national anthem. But I think when you do get to a situation where there are social issues, I think everybody – players and coaches alike – feel there is a responsibility to stand up for that. With that, that’s where the communication between you and your football team takes place, and you respect each and every man for where they came from and who they are.”
“With that, it’s more about not what they stand up for, but really when. And I think those are the types of things that you work through.”
Kaepernick has sat through the national anthem before each of the 49ers' three exhibitions this season. He told reporters this weekend he’ll continue to sit through it to protest what he perceives as racial oppression in the United States.
"I commend him for taking a stand in something and believing in something," receiver Randall Cobb said. "I don’t totally agree with everything that he did, but he took a stand and it’s something that he believed in. At a time where many guys in the league don’t feel comfortable with that, I commend him for being brave enough to do that."