Rodney Harrison: Colin Kaepernick Is Not Black


(Photo: Getty Images)

Rodney Harrison, who won two Super Bowls as a safety for the New England Patriots and is now an NFL analyst for NBC, took to a radio show on Tuesday morning to criticize Colin Kaepernick and his protest of racial discrimination via sitting through the national anthem.

“Obviously he has the right to stand up for what he believes, but he has to understand there are consequences and might be backlash for what he said," the 43-year-old told SportsTalk 790. "You know a lot of people are criticizing him—I think his heart is in the right place, I just think he was going about it in the wrong way. If he really wants to make change, sitting his butt down [during the anthem], that’s not going to change, that’s going to get people very upset and he has to understand that."

This has been a fairly popular reaction among athletes. But what Harrison said next had many scratching their heads—Harrison claimed that Kaepernick doesn't understand what he's protesting because he's not black … even though he is.

"If you think sitting during the national anthem, a lot of people really served before his time, now, trying to give him the freedoms and the liberties that he has … and I tell you this, I’m a black man," Harrison continued. "And Colin Kaepernick, he’s not black. He can not understand what I face and what other young black men and black people face, or people of color face, on a every single [day] basis. When you walk in a grocery store, and you might have $2,000 or $3,000 in your pocket and you go up in to a Foot Locker and they’re looking at you like you about to steal something. I don’t think he faces those types of things.”

The confused, white interviewer pressed Harrison for an explanation.

"I’m not saying that he has to be black," Harrison responded. "I said his heart is in the right place, but even with what he’s doing, he still doesn’t understand that we face as a black man or people of color, that’s what I’m saying."

Kaepernick is the biological son of one white and one black parent, but was given up for adoption then raised by a white couple. But the analyst wasn't implying that the San Francisco 49ers quarterback's upbringing makes him less African American—Harrison, who gets paid to know stuff about the NFL, apparently genuinely didn't know Kaepernick is biracial.

Harrison has since apologized.