Colin Kaepernick knows how to start with a bang.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback entered the Buffalo Bills' stadium on Sunday to start in his first game of the season wearing a Muhammad Ali T-shirt.
During a press conference, when asked why he chose to wear the shirt, Kaepernick gave the perfect statement to honor the late boxer. His statement, according to the Buffalo News' Nick Veronica:
"[Ali] was someone that fought a very similar fight and was trying to do what was right for the people. For me, to be able to have someone like that come before me, is huge. He is someone who helped pave the way for this to happen. What he did and what he stood for, people remember him more for that than they do a boxer. I can't let him die in vain. I have to try to carry that on and try to fight that same fight until we accomplish our goal."
When a reporter questioned Kaepernick on how his protests may be viewed as un-American, his answer was nothing short of compelling.
"I don't understand what's un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality that this country says it stands for," Kaepernick said. "To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards that it says it lives by."
Since late August, Kaepernick has been kneeling during the national anthem to protest against police brutality. He has repeatedly spoken out against systemic injustice against marginalized communities.
Kaepernick has received widespread support, as well as backlash, for his protests. During Sunday evening's game against the Buffalo Bills, fans of the New York football team marched in support of Kaepernick. They also kneeled with him during the national anthem.
The Ali shirt was the perfect complement to his protest. The legendary boxer was known for promoting social consciousness. On April 28, 1967, Ali was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000 for refusing the draft during the Vietnam War. He was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended for three years during the prime of his career.
"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?" Ali said during a press conference on Feb. 17, 1966.