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Tim Howard not ready to join anthem protests, but supports them

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — U.S. women's national team star Megan Rapinoe made waves on Sunday when she took to one knee during the U.S. national anthem before a NWSL match. Rapinoe was showing support for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has begun protesting the national anthem in an attempt to shine line on social injustice in America.

Veteran U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard says he supports the gestures, though he has no plans to do something similar.

"Colin Kaepernick has started this movement it sounds like and people are following suit and supporting him," Howard said on Monday, ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago. "I stand with my hand on my heart and I belt that national anthem out. Having said that, I'm 100 percent in favor of what Colin Kaepernick is doing. We're all individuals, we have a right to do what we feel."

Howard's comments come shortly after U.S. forward Jozy Altidore made public comments in support of Kaepernick.

“I think with Kaepernick it’s kind of interesting to see how people instead of looking at there’s a reason why he did it, they look at other things around it that don’t play a part,” Altidore told Sports Illustrated. “I think he’s trying to send a specific message, and people are trying to make it seem as if he doesn’t respect the country and he’s disrespecting veterans and stuff like that.

“I don’t think that’s where he’s going with it,” Altidore added. “I think he’s talking about something [police treatment of black Americans] that is a hot topic right now in our country and something that has been going on for quite some time, and something that needs to be figured out. So in a way I understand where he’s coming from.”

“Look, unfortunately, in today’s world and life in the United States, as a black man these things happen, still, to this day,” Altidore said. “I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m not grateful for everything the country has provided for me and my family – I am. But at the same time, I think this type of behavior from certain individuals against black Americans needs to stop. And I think it’s a collective thing that we have to do as a country to really sit down and look at, amongst other issues. And hopefully we can improve upon it.”

Rapinoe took to one knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to the NWSL match between Chicago and her Seattle Reign, and said afterwards that she did it as a show of support for Kaepernick.

"It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now," Rapinoe told reporters in Illinois after the match.  "I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties," Rapinoe said. "It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.” 

Will we see either Howard or Altidore offer a show of support for Kaepernick before Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier? Both players plan on doing what they have always done during the national anthem, though both have made their support for Kaepernick clear.

"Me personally, [standing for the national anthem] is what I've always done and I'll continue to do that," Howard said. "That doesn't mean I don't agree with what [Kaepernick] is doing. I certainly do."