JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In week one of the NFL season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew sharp criticism for kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice. During the preseason, Kaepernick sat during the anthem. Several players have since joined his silent protest.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jared Odrick spoke out in the pages of Sports Illustrated, defending the free-speech rights of fellow athletes.
“Seems to be that the only way the football players get to talk about themselves is like their rags-to-riches story, or you know, how hard it was to come from where they came from,” said Odrick.
In a one-on-one interview, Odrick tells Action News Jax that athletes should be free to speak their minds about more than just their performance on the field.
"What's so sacred about it? What's so sacred about the flag?" Odrick said.
When talking about the backlash against Kapernick, Odrick said the American experience is different for everyone. And every American has a right to express their beliefs, both in uniform and out.
“The flag means something totally different to one person than it does to somebody else,” said Odrick.
While critics argue players worth millions of dollars should stay quiet and simply play the game, Odrick argues otherwise.
"That’s what protest is. It’s to be able to raise it at a point in time when everybody's looking, watching, listening and is going to hear you,” says Odrick.
In the Sports Illustrated article, Odrick said he plans to pursue interests beyond the game. In the offseason, he also mentions the fight against social injustice.
To read Odrick's full editorial for Sports Illustrated, click here.
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Cox Media Group