Vincent Jackson says National Anthem has special meaning for military and their families
Vincent Jackson's commitment to supporting the military earned him the NFL's Salute to Service Award last season. His Jackson In Action 83 Foundation benefits military familes and he has a special relationship with the service men and woman at MacDill Air Force Base and the U.S. Central Command.
While he respects Colin Kaepernick's stance to sit during the National Anthem as a protest to the way blacks are treated in America, Jackson admits it's not something he could ever bring himself to do.
"I mean, I have a totally different perspective," Jackson said Monday of the 49ers quarterback. "I think everybody is entitled to their right and beliefs, but it's not something I would do.
What does the stars and stripes mean to someone who has served or a member of a military family, such as Jackson's?
"Oh, it's huge man," Jackson said. "Paying tribute and your respect to just so many people who have made sacrifices. What a great country we do live in. I understand if people want to get messages across, and make points and bring light to something they think is important. That's his choice of action to do it."
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said Kaepernick has used his platform to begin a conversation about race in America. But he believes Kaepernick should invest more time, energy and resources into making the San Francisco Bay area and Oakland safe and prosperous.
"That's the great thing about America. We have a choice and he's protesting something and he has a choice in America to do something," Seferian-Jenkins said. "People have the right to react either way and that's the beautiful thing about America. He brings the discussion to something that's going on around the country and at the end of the day it's America. You have a choice. That's the great thing about America.
"I think if you really want to, you should start with investment with your own community and re-educating people and spending money on things that are really, really important. I'm not saying he's not doing that, but for anyone worldwide including myself, if you really want to make a change, you got to be hands on. You've got to invest your own time, invest your own resources into creating a better world not only for yourself but for the people you surround yourself with.
"My stance is just people can talk about it and I know it's a great way to get the conversation started because this is healthy, this is good for our society to have this conversation and he brings up a very valuable point that's going on in our society today and he does that, obviously, by sitting down for the National Anthem and obviously that starts a discussion. Some people need to recognize as well that he did start a discussion on something."
Like Jackson, Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald has a family with a rich history of service in the military, but he respects Kapernick's right to free speech.
"I have a history that served. My father served in Vietnam, my uncle served in Vietnam, my grandfather served in the Korean War. My history as far as the military is very deep, but this is America. It's hard for you to say one thing or another about a situation because you have the freedom of speech. Whatever you feel is your religion or what you believe in, you have the freedom to display that here in America. So how I feel about a situation shouldn't overcome how he feels about a situation, shouldn't overshadow what he has going on in his mind."
Linebacker Lavonte David says Kapernick's stance will not change his plans to stand for the National Anthem.
“That’s just the way he feels, what he believes in,'' David said. You can’t change a man’s opinion about what he feels about what’s going on in the country these days. I just leave whatever they’ve got going on to them.
"For me, going back to when I was a kid, I stood for the National Anthem so right now I'll still do it.''