“I can’t kneel during the anthem.”
Buffalo Bills lineman Cyrus Kouandjio understands why NFL stars like Colin Kaepernick may want to kneel in protest during the national anthem, but he will never do that.
The son of immigrants from Cameroon just recently got his U.S. citizenship and is thrilled to finally call himself an American.
“I can’t kneel during the anthem,” said Kouandjio (via Buffalo News).
“I don’t blame Colin Kaepernick for doing what he did. But for me, I have too much respect for a flag and anthem that represent freedom and liberty.”
Born in Cameroon.
Raised in Maryland.
Schooled in Alabama.
Naturalized as a US citizen today in Buffalo.
Congratulations, Cyrus Kouandjio! pic.twitter.com/hpC7f5KwiU
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 17, 2016
Kouandjio said he feels so “blessed” to be a part of a country that gives opportunities to people like him and his parents, who escaped poverty and violence to make a new life for themselves in the greatest country on Earth.
“My father still tells stories of running away from the violence, hiding out in the woods, his baby sister on his back,” said Kouandjio, 23. “He lived in a far different world.”
Kouandjio was so happy to become a U.S. citizen that during last week’s naturalization ceremony, he led his fellow immigrants in the Pledge of Allegiance. “Now, I feel like I’m a part of it,” he said proudly.
— Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns (@ErieCountyClerk) November 17, 2016
Since the start of the NFL season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has refused to stand during the national anthem to protest what he calls America’s oppression of blacks.
Fans of the Buffalo Bills (the team Cyrus Kouandjio plays for) recently rained boos down on Kaepernick for his continued disrespect of the national anthem.
— Thad Brown (@thadbrown7) October 16, 2016
This is something Kouandjio cannot support, given his 19-year journey to citizenship.
“I had a long road to get here,” the 6-foot-7 former Alabama All-American said. “I am so glad. I feel so blessed.”
Kouandjio’s brother Arie, a guard for the Washington Redskins, became a U.S. citizen in October.
On behalf of the City of Good Neighbors, we welcome @ckouandjio and all New Americans to Buffalo, New York.
— Byron W. Brown (@MayorByronBrown) November 20, 2016
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