NFL player Nate Boyer, the former Green Beret who made headlines a year ago when he wrote an open letter to Colin Kaepernick about his national anthem protest, is calling on the quarterback and President Trump to unite the country.
“Wait..what? I know it sounds crazy, but maybe that’s exactly what we need to see,” Boyer wrote in a letter published by ESPN Friday. “Maybe that’s how we start to heal. Two men sit in a room and talk, simple as that.”
His call came as NFL players continued to protest during the national anthem in Week 6.
Three Dolphins -- Kenny Stills, Mike Thomas and Julius Thomas -- stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, Sports Illustrated reported. The Packers linked arms as a team, as did the Lions and the Jets. Patriots players put one hand on their teammates' back and another one on their heart. Six 49ers players took a knee for the national anthem.
Boyer wrote the new letter to “every single American,” and said that included Kaepernick, Trump and his "brothers in arms overseas who are wondering 'what in the hell is going on back there?'”
He went on to say that he is hurt more now than last year because it seems like “we just hate each other.”
“Simply put, it seems like we just hate each other; and that is far more painful to me than any protest, or demonstration, or rally, or tweet,” Boyer said. “We're told to pick a side, there's a line drawn in the sand "are you with us or against us?" It's just not who we are, or at least who we're supposed to be; we're supposed to be better than that, we're Americans. This doesn't even seem to be about right or wrong, but more about right or left.
“Today it feels like this national divide isn't even really about the anthem, or the flag, or kneeling, or sitting, or fists in the air. It's not about President Donald Trump, it's not about Colin Kaepernick, it's not about the military, or even police brutality. It feels like it's about winning. That's what makes America so great, our sheer competitiveness. We're winners, and we won't quit until victory is ours.”
He said he sat down with five Special Operations vets and discussed the NFL flag protests.
They all agreed Kaepernick and Trump “should be the ones uniting our country together.”
“That's how it all started with Colin and I, neither of us knew that kneeling would be the result of our conversation,” Boyer wrote. “Colin wanted to sit, I wanted him to stand, and so we found a common ground on a knee alongside his teammates. I believe that progress and real change happens in this world when you reach across the divide, you build a bridge, you swallow your pride, you open your mind, you embrace what you don't understand, and ultimately you surrender.
He added: “I would love for those two leaders to have that conversation, but more than anything I just want us to love one another again. One great thing about freedom is that you get to choose every day how you treat your neighbor. This IS the best country in the world, but we can always do better.”
Kaepernick said last year that he was refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
Boyer wrote the open letter to Kaepernick in August 2016 in the Army Times. The letter led to Boyer having a talk with Kaepernick. After that meeting, Kaepernick began kneeling during his protests rather than sitting.
Boyer, who played a pre-season game with the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper and then was released by the team, wrote in his letter in the Army Times in August 2016 that he was not judging Kaepernick for protesting the anthem.
“It’s your inalienable right,” he wrote. “What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes.”
After writing the letter, Boyer then met Kaepernick.
Trump began feuding with the NFL in September after asking at a political rally in Alabama: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b---- off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to teams calling on players to "honor our flag" and stand for the national anthem.