Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the national anthem in 1996, for which he was fined and suspended.
Colin Kaepernick revived the protest and became its face when he took a knee during the national anthem 20 years later.
The former NBA player said he met with Kaepernick during the height of the Kaepernick protests. Despite all the backlash Kaepernick faced, he felt at peace.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM
«We never talked much, but we met in the Bay Area when he was going through what he went through,» Abdul-Rauf told TMZ Sports. «We had a mutual friend. We met like in a private office. We talked for about an hour. We just shared information and if it resonated, we took it.»
«The biggest thing for me all night was when he said this is the greatest freedom he’s ever felt in his life. I said, ‘Well, it’s because of this freedom that you allow people like you and those who came before you we». and those who will come after us to take those risks and do what you did.
The two used the national anthem in protest, but for slightly different reasons. Abdul-Rauf said that the American flag was a symbol of oppression and that the United States had a long history of tyranny. Kaepernick protested against police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.
DOUG WILLIAMS, FIRST BLACK SUPER BOWL-WINNING QB, COMPARES THIS YEAR’S BIG GAME TO BARACK OBAMA’S CHOICE
Kaepernick last played in the NFL in January 2017. Abdul-Rauf believes the former San Francisco 49er wants to return to the NFL.
«I imagine it still does because when you grow up like we did, a lot of us start young. So we train, and that becomes a life for us. It’s in our DNA. You just don’t turn off that, that competitive spirit, right away. . Especially the level he was playing at.»
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Kaepernick led the Niners to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, but lost to the Baltimore Ravens.