Two-time Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora says Colin Kaepernick will go down in history alongside Muhammad Ali for taking a stand over his beliefs.
Kaepernick became the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem to highlight racial injustice.
But US president Donald Trump criticised sportswear company Nike for using the player to front a new advert.
“I think everybody against it now will look back in the future with regret,” Umenyiora told BBC Radio 5 live.
“He’ll be regarded as someone that did something special.”
Umenyiora who played for the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons during 11 years in the NFL, compared Kaepernick with boxing legend Ali and his stand against the Vietnam War in 1967.
“Looking further back down the line, back in history, we’ve already seen what Muhammad Ali, what Rosa Parks have done,” Umenyiora added.
“And when you look into the future, Colin Kaepernick is going to go down as this particular type of athlete, somebody who took a stand for something he believed in.
“So Nike is eventually going to come down on the right side of history [on this]. We respect the office of the President of the United States but I’m not quite sure what he is doing.”