Jets' Marshall defends Kaepernick as 'patriot'

8:59 PM ET

Outspoken New York Jets star Brandon Marshall, commenting for the first time on the Colin Kaepernick controversy, defended the quarterback’s right to sit in protest during the national anthem.

“This guy, he’s one of the biggest patriots out there,” Marshall said Tuesday in an interview on WFAN radio in New York. “Because he’s standing up for human rights.”

Marshall was a guest on the “Boomer and Carton” show. The Pro Bowl wide receiver sharply disagreed with co-host Boomer Esiason, who last week was critical of Kaepernick.

“You’re 100 percent wrong,” Marshall told Esiason, his fellow analyst on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.”

Never shy about tackling polarizing issues, Marshall said he will be standing for the anthem on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, where the Jets will commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks with a pregame ceremony.

Marshall said Kaepernick’s action, aimed to protest police brutality against minorities, is a hot topic of conversation in locker rooms across the NFL, including the Jets’.

Several Jets’ players were reluctant to comment last week when approached by reporters.

“I think President Obama said it best: That’s his constitutional right,” Marshall said of the San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterback. “But I do think this is very thought-provoking for all.

“I think that the message was a little diluted because of how much respect a lot of us have for those that served. … [They] gave us our freedoms, fought for our freedoms. But the message was clear.”

Marshall, who missed the last two games of the preseason with a minor hip injury, hasn’t talked to reporters in nearly two weeks.

“The only thing that I would love for everyone to really think about is: What does the American flag mean to them?” Marshall asked.

“When I look at the American flag, I see a bunch of fights. You know how much we have overcome. When you look at it, the American flag is bigger than just one thing. And you have the civil rights movement, you have sex trafficking, you have immigration law. There’s so many different fights there. And we have to be aware that it’s bigger than one person and one thing.

“But then there are times when that one thing trumps all. When it comes to human rights, we really have to be careful. If you believe in one thing, if you believe in mental health, that means you believe in cancer research. If you believe in cancer research, you believe in raising awareness for HIV. If you believe in standing up for gay rights, then you believe in standing up for the minorities.”

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