Jim Harbaugh has been marching in Ann Arbor while voicing his support for reform efforts in recent weeks. So, it comes as no surprise that when given the opportunity to back Colin Kaepernick, the Michigan coach is not going to shy away from praising his former quarterback's foresight on issues of race relations and police brutality.
Jed Hughes, the vice chairman and head of global sports practice at national consulting firm Korn Ferry, launched a new podcast, and his first guest was Harbaugh. Topics included the ongoing civil unrest and ways the country can improve moving forward, with Harbaugh noting that Kaepernick has been pointing out many of these issues for several years.
"You got to listen to people and really hear what they're saying," Harbaugh said, according to MLive.com. "Colin's been on the right side of this for a long time. I remember some very early conversations, when Colin decided to take a knee during the national anthem, and the person that's first gets so much backlash. So, just for Colin, like 'I love you, man.' Then to listen to him explain [it]."
Harbaugh elaborated on Kaepernick's place in the national conversation and the pioneering role he assumed as a sports figure leading change, comparing the former 49ers quarterback to Muhammed Ali and Jackie Robinson.
"Everybody sees that now," Harbaugh said, citing the needs for improvement in the political system, judiciary system and policing. "But Colin was really the first person — much like, I consider him now much like Muhammad Ali, like a Jackie Robinson. Somebody that is first; that is leading. I just love him. I'm just so proud of him everything that he does stand for."
After initially criticizing Kaepernick's decision to use the national anthem as the platform for his protest in August 2016, Harbaugh reversed course and not only supported his former quarterback's desire for change but also his Michigan players who decided to raise their fist in 2016 and lock arms in 2017 during the playing of the anthem.