Rev. Al Sharpton used his platform at George Floyd’s funeral Tuesday to scold NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying his apology on behalf of the league was insufficient and then ordering Goodell to “give Colin Kaepernick a job back.”
What are the details?
Speaking during a service held for Floyd in his hometown of Houston, Sharpton said, “The head of the NFL (Roger Goodell) said, ‘Yeah, maybe we was wrong. Football players, maybe they did have the right to peacefully protest,'” MassLive reported.
“Well, don’t apologize,” Sharpton continued. “Give Colin Kaepernick a job back. 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 a sudden you go and do a FaceTime, talk about you sorry. Minimizing the value of our lives.”
Sharpton added, “You sorry? Then repay the damage you did to the career you stood down, ’cause when Colin took a knee, he took it for the families in this building. And we don’t want an apology. We want him repaired.”
Sharpton’s remarks were met with loud applause from the audience.
After two weeks of protests, riots, and looting in cities across the U.S. over the May 25 death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, kneeling and honoring the Black Lives Matter movement has become a popular practice by demonstrators — including many politicians.
What’s the history?
In 2016, Kaepernick — then quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers — sparked a firestorm when he began taking a knee while the national anthem was played during games in protest over the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of law enforcement. The league pushed back against the protests at the time, amid criticism that the demonstrations were disrespectful to the U.S. and the flag.
Kaepernick was released by the 49ers, but found fame through his protests and signed lucrative endorsement deals with Nike despite no longer being a player. A special workout was held for Kaepernick last year in an effort to have an NFL team pick him up again, but he has not been re-signed.
What did the NFL players say?
Last week, a group of black NFL players released a video calling on the league to “condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people,” to “admit wrong in silencing [their] players from peacefully protesting,” and to declare they “believe black lives matter.”
Goodell responded with a video statement wherein he said, in part, “We, the National Football League, condemn racism, and the systemic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to the NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protests. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter.”