"In general, what I can say is that I certainly don't share the views that Mr. Kaepernick expressed after the game in explaining his reasoning for his actions, but we surely would all acknowledge and even defend his right to express those views in the settings that he chooses," Earnest said. "That's what he's done, and even as objectionable as we find his perspective, he certainly is entitled to express it."
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick says he plans to sit through the national anthem for as long as he feels is appropriate and until he sees significant progress -- specifically when it comes to race relations in the United States.
"I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed," Kaepernick told reporters in Santa Clara on Sunday after a 49ers practice. "To me this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."
Two days after he refused to stand for the "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the 49ers' preseason loss to the Packers, Kaepernick insisted that whatever the consequences, he will know "I did what's right." He said he hasn't heard from the NFL or anyone else about his actions -- and it won't matter if he does.
"No one's tried to quiet me and, to be honest, it's not something I'm going to be quiet about," he said. "I'm going to speak the truth when I'm asked about it. This isn't for look. This isn't for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don't have the voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances."
Kaepernick took the practice field Sunday with the 49ers as his stance drew chatter across NFL camps.
He explained his viewpoints to teammates in the morning, some agreeing with his message but not necessarily his method. Some said they know he has offended his countrymen, while others didn't even know what he had done.
"Every guy on this team is entitled to their opinion. We're all grown men," linebacker NaVorro Bowman said.
"I agree with what he did, but not in the way he did it," wideout Torrey Smith said. "That's not for me. He has that right. Soldiers have died for his right to do exactly what he did. ... I know he's taken a lot of heat for it. He understands that when you do something like that, it does offend a lot of people."
Bowman and Smith are African-American.
Kaepernick criticized presidential candidates Donald Trump ("openly racist") and Hillary Clinton (she "called black teens or black kids super-predators") and called out police brutality against minorities.
"There's people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable," Kaepernick told reporters. "People are being given paid leave for killing people. That's not right. That's not right by anyone's standards.
"You can become a cop in six months and don't have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist," Kaepernick said. "That's insane. Someone that's holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us."
In college at the University of Nevada-Reno, Kaepernick said, police were called one day "because we were the only black people in that neighborhood." Officers entered without knocking and drew guns on him and his teammates and roommates as they were moving their belongings, he said.
He said his stand is not against men and women in the military.
"I have great respect for men and women that have fought for this country," Kaepernick said. "I have family, I have friends that gone and fought for this country. They fight for freedom. They fight for the people. They fight for liberty and justice for everyone. And that's not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn't holding their end of the bargain up as far as, you know, giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody."
On Sunday, he stopped briefly on a side field to talk with UC Berkeley sociologist Harry Edwards and they shared a quick embrace before the quarterback grabbed his helmet and took the field. Edwards helped plan the "Olympic Project for Human Rights" before the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos took the medal podium barefoot and bowed their heads through the anthem, raising gloved fists in a black power protest.
Coach Chip Kelly did not speak to the media Sunday. He said Saturday he still hasn't decided on his starting quarterback in a competition between Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, who took over the job from Kaepernick last November.
"That's his right as a citizen," Kelly said. "We recognize his right as an individual to choose to participate or not participate in the national anthem."
Now, Kaepernick is prepared for whatever comes next.
"I think there's a lot of consequences that come along with this. There's a lot of people that don't want to have this conversation," he said. "They're scared they might lose their job. Or they might not get the endorsements. They might not to be treated the same way. Those are things I'm prepared to handle. ...