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Bills' Watkins commends Kaepernick for standing up for what he believes in

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Posted at 5:48 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 17:51:01-04

Since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made the decision to sit down during the national anthem, no matter where you turn, the story has been met with strong opinions all across both the country, and the National Football League.

As the Kaepernick situation has been hotly debated, the conversation has bled into locker rooms all over the NFL -- and even in Western New York with the Buffalo Bills. Following the uproar, one of the Bills top players decided to stand up for Kaepernick’s decision to sit down — for a different reason than you might initially think.

Sammy Watkins, the Bills’ star wide receiver and third-year player, gave his reasoning for supporting Kaepernick, and it doesn’t have to do with the individual decision of sitting down during the anthem.

“I’m not bashing him. I commend him for standing up,” Watkins said. “I’m not that guy to say he’s wrong or right. Like I said, he’s an adult. He knows what kind of backlash he was going to get.”

“A lot of guys bashed him about it and says it’s a bad thing, but I don’t know what his recent history was with that situation, or what kind of flared him to do that,” Watkins continued. “He wants to talk about it and hopefully get whatever he needs to get off his chest. But I think he has all the rights to do what he wants to do. He’s a grown man. Yes, in the NFL, we have rules and regulations, but sometimes stand-up guys like him choose to do otherwise and stand up for what he wants to stand up for.”

Watkins said he stands up and supports his head coach, Rex Ryan, for what his team wishes to do during the national anthem. And while the wide receiver didn’t feel particularly strongly about Kaepernick’s reasons to do what he did, with a more nuanced conversation, he believes strongly in the San Francisco quarterback being able to do what he feels is right.

“You have all the rights to stand up for what you want to stand up for,” Watkins remarked. “I think there needs to be more guys like [Kaepernick] that step up and say something. I think that definitely will help this generation and this world.”

“We do have a voice, and it can be to where we are too focused on our job and football, but, believe it or not I think there’s a lot of athletes that kind of feel like [Kaepernick], that just don’t have the time to say something or don’t reach out.”

Kaepernick explained his decision to sit during the national anthem, telling reporters that he didn’t want to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Watkins didn’t support those claims, but did offer up the following message for the quarterback:

“All I can tell you is stay strong, man, and stay up about this decision that you made,” Watkins said. "If I had a situation like that, or a situation where I thought I would need to do it, I would do the same thing he did."

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia