SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Colin Kaepernick spoke out Wednesday about his protest of police shootings and perceived mistreatment of minority communities, the same day that the NFL's top executive weighed in on the controversy.
It's been almost two weeks since it became public that Kaepernick was sitting down during the national anthem. Now, his No. 7 jersey has become the NFL's top seller.
"The jersey sales jumped because people's belief that there can be change and we can make this country better and that they believe that I was someone who can help that change," Kaepernick said.
He spoke at length to reporters after team practice in Santa Clara Wednesday.
Kaepernick is still the 49ers back-up quarterback so it seems clear the surge in jersey sales has less to do with his play on the field and more to do with his refusal to stand for the national anthem.
"I support it. I love what he's doing. I know a lot of people hate it, but who else is going to take a stand for what's going on in the world," said Kianna Lofton, who described herself as a Raiders fan who's also a Kaepernick fan.
She says the quarterback's protest has made her an even bigger fan.
At All Sports in Emeryville, the manager said Kaepernick's jerseys were listed at half off during last year's holiday season and they didn't sell. But in the past 10 days, she's sold around 10 Kaepernick jerseys at full price.
Kaepernick says he plans to donate his share of any sales to communities in need.
"For me, that support is something I have to give back to the community.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made his first public comments Wednesday about about the controversy, saying: ,"I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.
When Kaepernick was asked if his girlfirend, who is Muslim , influenced his decision, he said he's had ongoing conversations with her and others. He was also asked if he's converted to Islam.
"I haven't," he said. "But I have great respect for the religion. I know a lot of people who are muslim and are phenomenal people. But I think that comes along with people's fear of protest.
Warriors superstar Steph Curry has weighed in.
"I applaud him for taking his stand and hopefully the conversation is about his message and not is he going to stand or is he gonna sit for the national anthem?"
"I wish people would get as outraged about the murders that are happening on the streets as they are about a protest," Kaepernick said.
KTVU also had the opportunity Wednesday night to hear from 49er Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.
"I'm one of those guys who felt like whatever your political beliefs are you don't take it into the locker room and Bill Walsh was one of those guys," Rice said. "He didn't want that."
Rice said he respects Kaepernick's decision. And most people seem to agree that Kaepernick has a right to protest.
Donating jersey sales
Colin Kaepernick said Wednesday that he will donate the proceeds from the sale of his jersey -- currently the top selling jersey in the league -- back into the community.
The player, who has made national headlines for not standing during the anthem, said on his Instagram account that he wanted to "repay" his supporters for their ongoing concern and support.
"I want to thank everyone who has shown me love and support, it truly means a lot!" he said on the social media platform. "The only way I can repay you for the support is to return the favor by donating all the proceeds I receive from my jersey sales back into the communities! I believe in the people and WE can be the change!"
Kaepernick has been in the headlines ever since he sat during the national anthem during preseason games in August. Citing what he said was racial injustice, Kaepernick has said he wanted to call attention to minorities who were being treated unfairly by police.
After team practice Wednesday, Kaepernick spoke at length about the controversy.
"I continue to talk with and meet with different activists and different leaders in communities around the nation," he said. "I've had a lot of conversations with them about how to address this issue practically and with reasonable solutions that we feel can be implemented."
Kaepernick made his comments the same day that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made his first public comments about Kaepernick's protest.
Goodell told the Associated Press that he doesn't "necessarily agree" with Kaepernick's action but recognized the quarterback's right to protest.
“I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society,” said Goodell. “On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.”
When Kaepernick was asked by reporters if he had converted to Islam, he laughed.
"I have seen that," he said. "And I haven't (converted). I have great respect for the religion and I know a lot of people who are Muslim and are phenomenal people."
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