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Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid

Eli Harold #58, Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest on the sideline, during the anthem, prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on October 16, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills defeated the 49ers 45-16. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

Kaepernick's protest and influence

Nearly four years ago Colin Kaepernick began sitting and later kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick’s protest rocked the league. The country too. Kneeling became a regular issue for then-candidate Donald Trump to use on the presidential campaign trail. He found plenty of support, since the anthem and the flag remain cherished by many. He relentlessly blasted the players (“son of a bitch!”) and the NFL itself (“total disrespect for our great country!”) to thunderous applause among supporters.

Dan Wetzel