Carlos Delgado reflects on his 2004 protest, NFL anthem issue

Carlos Delgado was one of the most productive hitters in Blue Jays' history.

Taking a knee or sitting during the U.S. national anthem may be the centre of discussion these days, but it’s not necessarily a new trend.

In 2004, former Toronto Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado stayed in the dugout during the playing of “God Bless America” in between the seventh inning of games. Delgado was protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time.

“I’m not trying to get anyone mad,” Delgado said back then. “This is my personal feeling. I don’t want to draw attention to myself or go out of my way to protest. If I make the last out of the seventh inning, I’ll stand there. But I’d rather be in the dugout.”

More than 13 years later, Delgado was asked about Colin Kaepernick’s protest and he is adamant that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback respects the national anthem.

“It is not that he doesn’t respect the anthem,” Delgado said in Spanish to Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia (h/t ESPN.com). “I am almost positive that that is not the case. Just as I, in my era, it wasn’t that I didn’t respect ‘God Bless America’ or what it represented for the United States. But yes, he is tying what he thinks it should represent for the African-American community in the United States, especially given all the things that have happened lately with African-American victims of beatings by white police.”

Delgado also believes that there is a serious race issue in the United States, and that Kaepernick should not stray away from his initial motivation behind the protests.

“I don’t think it is any secret that in the United States there is a problem with racism,” he said. “Obviously, he has to know that he has a legion of followers and a legion of people who will hate him until his death. That is what democracy is about. You have the liberty to express how you feel and another has the liberty to say what they think about it.

“I think the important thing is for him to be consistent with his principles and his message. It is not normal that here we are in 2016 and we still have segregation, marginalization and the abuse that we have against minorities, religious communities and African-American communities.”

Delgado was a two-time all-star and three-time recipient of the Silver Slugger award during his time with the Blue Jays. He also played for the Florida Marlins and New York Mets.