SAN DIEGO (AP) - While a naval officer sang the first notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and dozens of military members unfurled an oversized flag on the football field, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid dropped to one knee on the San Francisco 49ers' sideline.
Kaepernick and Reid kneeled during the national anthem Thursday before the 49ers' 31-21 preseason victory over San Diego.
With his silent gestures of protest, Kaepernick intends to keep drawing attention to a litany of American problems - and he's no longer alone.
Up north in Oakland, Seattle Seahawks cornerback, and John Tyler High School graduate, Jeremy Lane sat on the bench during the anthem, following Kaepernick's lead.
Lane sat on the bench behind his standing teammates before Seattle's game against the Raiders. He said he doesn't know Kaepernick, but was "standing behind him."
"It's something I plan to keep on doing until I feel like justice has been served," Lane said. "No, I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it. I just did it. ... I don't mean no disrespect toward anybody, but I'm just standing behind what I believe."
Kaepernick doesn't intend his stance to be a criticism of the military. When the Chargers' public-address announcer asked fans to recognize active military personnel during a timeout, the quarterback stood and enthusiastically applauded along with his teammates and the entire stadium.
"I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm's way for my freedom of speech, and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee," Kaepernick said. "So I have the utmost respect for them, and I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way."
While negative reaction to the quarterback has been strong, Kaepernick also has been widely praised for his commitment to his stance. Veterans and military members tweeted their support for Kaepernick in recent days under the hashtag "VeteransForKaepernick."
"It was something I was thinking about to make sure that I'm not just talking about something, but I'm actively being involved and actively trying to make a change in these communities," Kaepernick said. "I've been very blessed to be in this position and be able to make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people."