Last Thursday night in San Diego, Nate Boyer stood next to Colin Kaepernick as he knelt in protest during the national anthem before the 49’ers played their final preseason game against the Chargers.
Many have credited altering the method of protest from sitting to kneeling alongside teammates with changing the perception and national conversation surrounding his intended message.
in the post game press conference, Kaepernick credited his conversation with Nate Boyer for his decision to take a knee.
So, who is Nate Boyer? And, how did he end up in the eye of a national media firestorm?
Nate Boyer is essentially the non-fiction version of Captain America, or close to it. His story is remarkable. After serving for six years in the U.S. Army as a Green Beret, and fighting on multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Boyer returned home and decided walked on at the University of Texas, having never played organized football.
He eventually became the Longhorns’ long snapper, and even earned a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks.
Today, Boyer joined The Herd and took the audience inside his first meeting with Kaepernick at a San Diego hotel, and how their conversation helped change the tone of his protest.
“We talked about veterans’ issues. We talked about all kinds of things. And then we kind of got to where we’re at today. It was military appreciation night in San Diego, already a big military town, and I told him, ‘It’s military appreciation night, there’s gonna be a lot of vets in the stands.’
He was like, ‘Honestly, I didn’t know it was that.'”
Although Boyer preferred that Kaepernick stand for the anthem, they came up with kneeling as a compromise that wouldn’t detract from his message.
“Taking a knee, honestly, that’s a sign of respect. People take a knee to pray. We called it “Tebowing” a few years ago. Now it’s different, now it’s “Kaepernicking”, I guess.
Also, soldiers, veterans, military personnel. On a patrol, when we do a security haul, we take a knee and pull security. Or, standing in front of maybe a fallen brother’s grave, we would take a knee as a sign of respect.
So I saw that image as something that was, while still getting his point across, definitely, much more respectful, and I think a lot of people would agree.”
Since Kaepernick opted to kneel in San Diego, the focus of the national conversation has been shifted from his actions, back to the message.
After all, a protest can’t be effective if the story is the messenger and not the intended message.