When San Franciso 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began his national anthem protest, he was all alone. Not only did Kaepernick not have the support of other players, but a few of them either spoke out against him, like Jerry Rice, or stood on the sidelines, like Cam Newton. Now that Kaepernick is on the cover of TIME, however, other players seem to be reversing their stances.
When first asked about Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton offered a clumsy evasion, but now the star player has reversed his position. In a Facebook post, Newton said of Kaepernick, “I salute my brother for taking a stand”.
This is in stark contrast to comments Newton made during an interview with ESPN’s First Take.
“Who am I to say that it’s wrong? Who am I to say that it’s right? Either or, it’s still personal,” Newton said of Kaepernick’s controversial protest at the time.
“What I can’t fathom,” Newton added, “is how does one eighth of an inch — something so small — be the difference in such a big commodity in our whole lifetime. That’s the thickness of our skin — one eighth of an inch. And under that, we’re all the same color. That’s the big picture.”
Newton was also asked about the unrest in Charlotte during a presser earlier this week.
“I do know something tragic happened in the Charlotte area,” Newton said. “My heart mourns for that family, but I just don’t know enough information at this specific time. When it happened, I was here, and we’ve been here all day.”
He then called on police to be held accountable.
“We all have to be held accountable and when is enough enough,” Newton said. “We’re just hoping that the facts come out. … One article it says there was a book, some article said it was a gun and in another article, it said the police that did the shooting didn’t have his camera on. It’s kind of like, hey, in my sport, in my life, if I’m not held accountable, there’s (backup quarterback) Derek Anderson, there’s Joe Webb. But what if people are dying? From some cases, it’s innocence, and in other cases, it was a threat to the police officers. So who am I to sit up here and make a specific judgment?”