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In his highly political comments at the funeral of George Floyd on Tuesday, social justice activist and MSNBC host Al Sharpton launched into a rant against the NFL in response to commissioner Roger Goodell apologizing for the league discouraging players from protesting the national anthem. Instead of apologizing, Sharpton told Goodell, “give Colin Kaepernick a job back.”
On Friday, the NFL released a video statement in which Commissioner Goodell expressed solidarity with those protesting the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American who died after a white police officer kept his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. In the statement, Goodell said the league was “wrong” not to listen “earlier” to NFL players who were protesting police brutality.
“We, the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” said Goodell. “We, the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League believe black lives matter.”
We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv
— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
During the funeral for Floyd in Houston, Texas Tuesday, after saying that all that Floyd’s family wants to see is justice, Sharpton suddenly brought up Goodell’s apology — and roundly mocked it.
“It’s nice to see some people change their minds,” said Sharpton. “The head of the NFL said, ‘Yeah, maybe we was wrong. Football players, maybe they did have the right to peacefully protest.’”
“Well, don’t apologize! Give Colin Kaepernick a job back!” Sharpton demanded. “Don’t come with some empty apology — take a man’s livelihood, strip a man down of his talents, and four years later when the whole world is marching, all of the sudden you go and do a FaceTime talking about you sorry!”
“Minimizing the value of our lives!” he declared.
“You sorry? Then repay the damage you did to the career you stood down — because when Colin took a knee, he took it for the families in this building,” Sharpton concluded. “And we don’t want an apology — we want him repaired.”
Sharpton’s Kaepernick demand was met with strong applause by many at the event, some even giving it a standing ovation, as noted by Yahoo Sports.
While Sharpton characterized Kaepernick’s current lack of an NFL job as the league having “taken his livelihood” and “stripped him of his talents,” in a highly scrutinized sequence of events last year, the league gave Kaepernick a chance to get “his job” back in a special workout that reportedly included representatives from dozens of teams. However, just minutes before it was scheduled to being, Kaepernick decided not to attend, instead holding his own tightly managed workout where he could have his own camera crew.
Kaepernick’s camp blamed the NFL for the infamous “skipped workout” by accusing the league of trying to force the former quarterback into signing an overly restrictive waiver and not allowing him to bring his own crew, but, as detailed in a lengthy behind the scenes report by ESPN, it appears that the league was genuinely offering Kaepernick a chance to get back on the field but “distrust” and “resentment” from Kaepernick’s camp derailed the opportunity.
Kaepernick spent his entire final season in the NFL refusing to stand for the national anthem. The protest, which eventually turned into a movement, started during the 2016 preseason. Asked by a reporter why he would not stand, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
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