In describing Colin Kaepernick’s sacrifice for a cause, legendary Green Bay Packer Brett Favre compared the ex-San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback to a revered former NFL player — Pat Tillman.
Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Tillman, a 25-year-old safety for the Arizona Cardinals, left the NFL after the 2001 season to enlist in the army and eventually joined the elite Army Rangers. He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before being killed in 2004 as the result of friendly fire in Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded both the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
Kaepernick didn’t voluntarily give up football. But he protested police violence against the Black community by taking a knee during the national anthem throughout the 2016 season. His protests made him a lightning rod for controversy. Then presidential candidate Donald Trump, called Kaepernick and the players who joined him, “sons of bitches” and called on owners to release them from their teams. After leaving the 49ers after the 2016 season, Kaepernick, now 32, had made it clear he still wanted to play, but hasn’t received an offer.
Favre said both men gave up their football careers because of something they believed in.
“It’s not easy for a guy his age — black or white, Hispanic, whatever — to stop something that you’ve always dreamed of doing, and put it on hold, maybe forever, for something that you believe in,” Favre told TMZ Sports. “I can only think of right off the top of my head, Pat Tillman is another guy that did something similar. And, we regard him as a hero. So, I’d assume that hero status will be stamped with Kaepernick as well.”
The comparison is likely to stir some debate as Favre compared two mens who have been celebrated on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
Kaepernick, whose Black Lives Matter efforts have continued since he left the NFL, has been celebrated by many Democrats, especially in the wake of George Floyd being killed. Momentum appears to be building for him to get a chance to return.
Conversely he’s remained a source of anger for many Republicans, who believe protesting during the anthem is disrespectful and unpatriotic. Favre comparing him to Tillman, whose personal sacrifice to join the military has led the conservatives to hail him as an icon, is likely to ruffle some feathers.
Favre told TMZ he thinks Kaepernick deserves another shot to play and could likely still make an impact.
“I thought he was a dynamic player when he was playing in his prime,” said Favre, who has retired to his home state of Mississippi. “He’s still young and hasn’t been hit in several years, so there’s no reason to think that he’s lost that much of a step.”
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