Obama defends Colin Kaepernick, says it's his 'constitutional right' to protest

As the noise surrounding Colin Kaepernick's silent, sitting/kneeling protest of the national anthem before NFL games grows, so do the people weighing in on the controversy.

Kaepernick's seen a number of people rally to his side, including a 49ers teammate in Eric Reid, a rival in Seahawks player Jeremy Lane and a famous female soccer player in Megan Rapinoe. Count the president of the United States among those that support his right to do what he wants during the national anthem.

Obama, speaking at the G20 summit in China, said he supports Kaepernick's constitutional right to sit during the anthem.

"In terms of Mr. Kaepernick, I have to confess I haven't been thinking about football when I've been over here. And I haven't been following this closely, but my understanding at least is he's exercising his constitutional right to make a statement," Obama said. "I think there's a long history of sports figures doing so. I think there are a lot of ways you can do it. As a general matter when it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women and those who fought for us, that is a tough thing for them to get past, to then hear what his deeper concerns are.

"But I don't doubt his sincerity based on what I've heard. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. And if nothing else, what he's done is he's generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about."

The Kaepernick debate is a heated one, and it doesn't have an easy answer. People can be understandably upset about Kap refusing to acknowledge the American flag, especially those who served for America's military.

But there are also plenty of military members who support Kaepernick's cause.

And one thing remains above all else: the 49ers backup quarterback has the unalienable right to do whatever he chooses when the national anthem is played. America is about freedom and nothing is more free than the option to do whatever you want.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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