Jim Brown on Colin Kaepernick: 'I am with him 100 percent'

ByPat McManamon ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

BEREA, Ohio -- Jim Brown stands "100 percent" behind Colin Kaepernick in his decision not to stand for the national anthem before games.

Brown, the Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back and longtime social activist, appeared on a panel discussion on the NFL Network on Monday night and said that Kaepernick "made all the sense in the world" in explaining his position.

"He's within his rights and he's telling the truth as he sees it," Brown said. "I am with him 100 percent."

Kaepernick has declined to stand for the anthem at preseason games, saying he did not want "to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

Brown said that criticism of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback's methods in not standing were off base. He added, though, that he would not protest the same way.

"I don't know what the big issue is, because this young man in backing up his statement, becomes stronger in my mind," Brown said. "Now if you ask me 'Would I do that?' No I won't, because I see it a little differently.

"I'm an American citizen. I pay my taxes. I want my equal rights. But this is my country, and consequently I don't want to open up for ISIS or anybody that will take away what we've already gained."

Brown said he appeared on the panel not to focus on Kaepernick but "the things that it opens up."

"And the No. 1 issue in the country for me is black homicide, young black men killing young black men," Brown said.

He said other groups have worked together to improve their communities. As examples, he mentioned Jewish and Spanish communities.

"If we came together with our great athletes and our great scholars and said, 'As African-Americans, when we have a community that's defined, we're going to make it the cleanest, nicest, most well educated, hard-working community in this country,' ... I think that will knock down a lot of walls," Brown said.

Brown praised Kaepernick for taking a stand, adding it's encouraging to him to see young athletes making social statements. He mentioned when NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James opened the ESPYs by talking about the necessity to end gun violence.

"The young men of today are stepping up," Brown said. "For so many years they did not step up."

He added he was happy that "Pandora's Box is open" with African-American athletes speaking up against what they see as injustice.

"For me," Brown said, "it's like going back in time."