“When in our history has kneeling ever been seen as a disrespectful act?” Boyer said. “People take a knee to pray and to propose to their wives. Knights take a knee when they are knighted. We take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave to pay respects in the military. When a player is hurt on the field in a football game, the players all take a knee out of respect. We both thought that was a good middle ground, and he thought that was more powerful than sitting. So he agreed to do that and I agreed to stand next to him.”
That night was military appreciation night. There was a fighter jet flyover, an African-American sailor sang the national anthem, and Navy Seals skydived into the stadium. Players kneeled and fans booed them for not standing. And amongst all of that, Boyer stood next to Kaepernick as the first of many players took a knee during the national anthem.
In the time since, criticism of the players’ solemn protest has largely centered on the concern that kneeling during the national anthem was a sign of disrespect to members of the military and the flag they fought for — despite the fact that it was a veteran who first suggested that Kaepernick and his colleagues kneel.