Denver Broncos lineman Russell Okung stands with Colin Kaepernick

“It’s important to recognize the distinction between our country’s symbols — such as the flag or the anthem — and the military, or our country as a whole.”

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Russell Okung offered his perspective about Colin Kaepernick's protest. (Jonathan Satriale/Flickr)

Russell Okung offered his perspective about Colin Kaepernick's protest. (Jonathan Satriale/Flickr)

The Denver Broncos’ Russell Okung sees some parallels between Colin Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem and the raised fists Tommie Smith and John Carlos threw up during the 1968 Olympics.

Smith and Carlos were sprinters who protested America’s treatment of black people. When they won medals in the 200 meters, each threw fists covered by black gloves into the air as nods to Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party and Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated months before the Games.

“Now, fast-forward to 2016,” Okung wrote on The Players Tribune. “… After several recent shooting tragedies and a summer marked by growing racial tensions, Colin felt as though he had to do something. He explained that his actions represent an effort to protest the lack of inclusivity and equal opportunity for minorities, particularly African-Americans in the United States.”

Okung makes some nice points in the piece. He points out that not taking part in the national anthem doesn’t necessarily mean Kaepernick doesn’t have love for his country.

“It’s important to recognize the distinction between our country’s symbols — such as the flag or the anthem — and the military, or our country as a whole,” he writes.