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As Kaepernick sits during the Nat’l Anthem, this former Bama, 49ers star is serving his country

Glenn Coffee (left) and Colin Kaepernick (right): Serving vs. Sitting.
Glenn Coffee (left) and Colin Kaepernick (right): Serving vs. Sitting.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked controversy late last week when he refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem before the 49ers game against the Green Bay Packers.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he explained after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The backlash was swift and severe.

“This country allows Colin Kaepernick to be a millionaire for being mediocre at his job,” commented one Twitter user in a sentiment echoed by many observers online.

While the NFL and most teams and players have been relatively quiet in response to the controversy, the New York Giants made a silent but undeniable statement by having their entire organization stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the sideline during the playing of the National Anthem before their game on Saturday.

Unfazed, Kaepernick says he plans to continue sitting during the playing of the anthem.

The negative response continued as a meme began circulating online comparing Kaepernick’s life to the path chosen by former University of Alabama running back Glen Coffee, who was drafted by the 49ers in 2009, before Kaepernick arrived in 2011.

Both men were born in 1987. They both starred in college before being selected in the third round of the NFL draft by the 49ers. But while Kaepernick went on to sign a deal that made him a mega-millionaire, Coffee chose to leave the NFL behind to serve the very country that Kaepernick believes is his oppressor.

Glenn Coffee Colin Kaepernick

Coffee explained his decisions in an interview with the Washington Post.

“I got to high school, and I played because my friends played, and then when I realized that I was good enough for college, at that point it was to get school paid for,” he said. “And I still had a year left to play at ’Bama, but I didn’t come back because I didn’t want to play football anymore. So I figured if I got paid to play football, I would tolerate it. So I got to the NFL and I got the money, and it was mo’ money, mo’ problems, pretty much. And I found out it wasn’t for me.”

Now, Coffee is a paratrooper working for the 6th Ranger Training Battalion in Fort Walton, Florida, training the nation’s elite soldiers.

Coffee told the Post he yearned for something higher after he realized playing football was no longer his dream.

“I just felt like the league and that path wasn’t for me,” he explained. “I just knew that I didn’t want to waste, for me, my younger years doing something that I didn’t want to do. That was kind of my viewpoint on the situation.”

“Not everyone can serve in combat arms, and not everyone can serve in a Special Operations capacity,” Coffee concluded. “So that’s why I joined. I felt like I was able to do it. Physically and mentally, because there is a mental aspect to it, too.”

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