Colin Kaepernick is still a member of the San Francisco 49ers. He’s the second-string quarterback once again behind Blaine Gabbert, and that, as anyone would agree to, is better than being out of an NFL job with the 2016 season set to kick off this weekend. But people are still talking about his national anthem protest, an action that pushed Donald Trump’s buttons and led to rumors that he may be converting to the Islam faith. Still, he insists that he has no plans of converting, and maintains that those rumors were mostly born out of fear.

Kaepernick respects Islam, but debunks rumors of his conversion

On Wednesday, Kaepernick told USA TODAY Sports that he has “great respect” for Islam and Muslim people in general, but nonetheless shot down talk of a possible conversion to the religion. He said that those rumors “(come) along with people’s fear” of his decision not to stand for the national anthem, and the largely Donald Trump-driven trend of Islamophobia. Without acknowledging Trump’s earlier comment that Kaepernick should “find another country,” he said that the Republican presidential nominee’s plans to prevent all Muslims from entering America is “ridiculous.”

No, Kap isn’t being influenced by Muslim girlfriend either

At the present, Kaepernick is in a relationship with radio host and MTV personality Nessa Diab, who is Muslim.

Recent reports had suggested that Diab had been influencing her athlete boyfriend in his actions, but according to Kaepernick, that is also untrue. He told USA TODAY Sports that he has “open discussions” with Diab and other people about Islam, but at the end of the day, he respects the right that people can believe in any faith they want to believe in, and feels no one should be “persecuted or judged” based on those beliefs.

More NFL players may agree with Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, but are afraid to act

There have been a few players who have supported Kaepernick in his ongoing custom of kneeling instead of standing for the national anthem. His 49ers teammate, safety Eric Reid, chose to kneel with his teammate before last Thursday’s preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers.

Likewise, Seattle Seahawks defensive back Jeremy Lane sat during the national anthem ahead of the Seahawks’ game against the Oakland Raiders. His supporters have also included athletes in other sports, including women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe of the Seattle Reign. But as far as the NFL goes, Kaepernick believes he may have more potential supporters, who are “nervous about (the) consequences” they may have to face.

This, according to Kaepernick, is “not an ideal (situation)” for anyone in the league, and is symbolic of the “oppression” within the NFL, as well as its culture that tends to punish players who refuse to conform to rules and tradition.

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