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XF Jan 13
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Before the San Francisco 49ers practiced or quarterback Colin Kaepernick met with the media on Sunday afternoon, they held a players-only meeting.The goal of the meeting was to give everyone a chance to speak and understand where Kaepernick is coming from with his decision to sit during the national anthem. The quarterback told NFL Media on Friday that it was meant as a form of protest over the treatment of black people and people of color in the U.S.Perhaps just as important, the meeting was meant to ensure that a team coming off a last-place finish in the NFC West would not fracture before the season even began.Before anyone can try to separate us as a team, we went ahead and attacked it, safety Antoine Bethea said. We spoke on it, Kap got in front of us and he spoke on it, and thats all that needs to be said. Were going to keep that in the room, and if Kap wants to say anything else about it, thats his choice. But as a team, we spoke on it and continue to move forward and get ready for the season.To hear other players around the locker room describe the meeting, it was much needed because there was a segment of the locker room that not only didnt agree with what Kaepernick is doing, but didnt understand it.Center Daniel Kilgore, a sixth-year pro from Kingsport, Tennessee, counted himself among those who didnt know where Kaepernick was coming from when he found out about the protest. Kilgore talked about how he has family and friends in the military and found Kaepernicks sitting an affront to them.After hearing Kaepernick speak at the meeting, Kilgore said he gained new perspective.Colin made it clear that he wasnt trying to discriminate against the military, Kilgore said. But I can see where some people take offense to that. Personally, I have family and friends who are currently serving, so I mean, when it came out, to be honest with you, I took offense to it when it came out.After Kap stated his case today and seeing where he is coming from, I do stand with Kap when he says enough is enough against crime and the violence and discrimination and racism. I believe that enough is enough. But I could see why people would think its bad with the national anthem and the military.For me, personally, Im going to stand there every time and Im going to thank God and honor those who are fighting, those who have fought, my family members and my friends. If Kap decides not to, thats his decision.For receiver Torrey Smith, who has actively expressed his views on political and social issues via social media, it wasnt about understanding where Kaepernick is coming from as it is about ensuring that the focus of the discussion is in the right place.I think everyone has the right to stand up for what they believe in, so I respect that first and foremost, Smith said. I agree with what he did but not the way he did it. Thats not for me. But he has that right. Soldiers have died for his right to do exactly what he did.While Smith said he didnt agree with how Kaepernick went about sending his message, he did note that it was good to see Kaepernick willing to put himself out there to get his point across.We have issues in our country and things that need to be addressed, and oftentimes athletes -- people want them to take a stand, and then when they do, its Hey, you all shut up, sit down, Smith said. He did something. Its the national anthem and of course can offend people, and I understand that as well, but Im not more so focused on what he did; its more about the message that he was trying to send. Im sure he didnt mean to offend anyone.Tight end Bruce Miller said the message seemed to get across to most of the team, himself included.I think that we just have a better understanding of what he was feeling, what he was trying to say, and that way we can move on and approach this in our own way, but be knowledgeable and understand where he was coming from, Miller said.As Kaepernick addressed the media in the afternoon, he said the support he has received from teammates has been great. And for those who still need clarification, well, those are precisely the type of conversations Kaepernick was hoping to spark by doing this.I know the consequences that come along with my decision, and if they feel strongly and want to stand with me, then I hope they do, Kaepernick said. If its something theyre not ready for, then thats what the conversations are for and they can make that decision when theyre ready or if theyre ready.In addition to understanding Kaepernicks position, the primary goal of the meeting was to make sure everybody is on the same page to prevent the situation from becoming a distraction.He has the right to do whatever he wants to do, and theres value to his opinion, linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. What were focused on here is keeping this team together, not letting any type of cancer or anything get in between us. Thats what was said to Colin, and he understood that. He voiced his opinion about the issue, and our main focus is to keep this team together and understand that any guy that feels like they need to stand up for anything, thats their prerogative. You have the right to do that.But the most important thing is that we all stick together and we are here for one reason and that reason is to win games. Lionel Messi has handed Barcelona a boost after returning to training ahead of Wednesdays showdown with Celtic in Champions League. Messi was taken ill at the weekend and was forced to withdraw from his sides La Liga game with Malaga on Saturday night. Barcelona were held to a goalless draw by Malaga in La Liga In Messis absence Barca, who were also without the leagues joint-top scorer Luis Suarez, were held to a goalless draw by nine-man Malaga at the Nou Camp. However, both players are expected to be fit for Wednesdays trip to Glasgow after Messi took part in Mondays training session along with Suarez, who is available again after serving a one-match ban. Luis Suarez, Messi, Neymar and Gerard Pique were all involved in Mondays training session Left-back Jordi Alba is expected to be back in the starting line-up against Celtic in place of Lucas Digne after shaking off a hamstring injury, Sky Sports Black Friday sale Upgrade to Sky Sports now and get 12 months half price! Gerard Pique showed no ill effects after returning against Malaga from a three-week lay-off due to an ankle injury, but captain Andres Iniesta and Samuel Umtiti remain ruled out.dddddddddddd Andres Iniesta is currently sidelined by a knee injury picked up last month Group C leaders Barca know a win win over Celtic would secure their place in the last 16, but they will go through regardless of their result if Borussia Monchengladbach fail to beat Manchester City. Sociedad vs Barcelona November 27, 2016, 7:30pm Live on Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Luis Enriques side trip to Celtic Park is the first of three away games with a tricky trip to Real Sociedad on Sunday followed by a Copa del Rey tie at Hercules.Upgrade to Sky Sports now and get 12 months half price. Hurry, offer ends December 4! 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