At this point, Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem has taken not only the NFL, but the United States by storm. Many NFL players and athletes around the country have joined Kaepernick in kneeling during the National Anthem at sporting events in an effort to protest the social injustice occurring around the country.
“It’s something that as I’ve gained more knowledge about, what’s gone in this country in the past, what’s going on currently. These aren’t new situations,” Kaepernick said in August to explain why he’s kneeling during the National Anthem. “This isn’t new ground. There are things that have gone on in this country for years and years and have never been addressed, and they need to be.”
While no Bengals players have joined Kaepernick in kneeling or as some other players have done, raising their fists during the National Anthem, Bengals safety George Iloka and tight end Tyler Eifert have both now made statements to ESPN regarding Kaepernick’s movement and effort to start a discussion regarding the police brutality and other social injustices facing people of color in the United States.
“I don’t know how long ago he kneeled, a month ago, and we’re still talking about it, which is great, and the conversation should keep going until these issues are solved,” Iloka told ESPN.
“There are some issues going on right now, and I think the whole country is well-aware of it. It’s on the news every single day,” Eifert said via ESPN. “That time during the national anthem isn’t about you, it’s not about me. It’s about the greatness of this country, paying our respects to it and all the opportunities that it offers.”
Eifert shared a post on Instagram the day following Kaepernick’s first recognized protest that made many believe the Bengals tight end did not agree with Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem. Eifert’s cousin is currently in the armed forces and deployed overseas.
If nothing else, Kaepernick has started a conversation and Iloka believes he too should be stepping up to make a difference.
“He’s really out there and we all need to step up, myself included,” Iloka said. “We need to come together and figure out ways to solve those problems, whether it’s in Congress or whether it’s just hands-on, players and people just trying to go out and make the community better.”
Kaepernick is on the cover of the current issue of TIME magazine, further showing the wide reach of his protest.
“We are the greatest country,” Iloka said, “but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement.”