Colin Kaepernick was shunned by the public for a peaceful protest he conducted during the 2016 season, kneeling during the National Anthem before games to bring awareness to racial injustice and police brutality.
Half a decade later and it seems like people are now finally realizing that perhaps he was right in doing so, and now our country is dealing with the aftermath of not listening.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was just one of many figures in sports among the likes of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich who have spoken on Kaepernick, now hoping the public appreciates what he was trying to do years ago.
“We owe a tremendous amount” to former NFL quarterback back when he did,” Carroll said on The Ringer’s “Flying Coach” podcast.
“I think that there was a moment in time that a young man captured. He took a stand on something, figuratively took a knee, but he stood up for something he believed in — and what an extraordinary moment it was that he was willing to take.”
“… But what happened from the process is it elevated awareness from people that just took everything away from what the statement was all about, and it just got tugged and pulled and ripped apart.
“And the whole mission of what the statement was, such a beautiful … it’s still the statement that we’re making right today. We’re not protecting our people. We’re not looking after one another. We’re not making the right choices. We’re not following the right process to bring people to justice when actions are taken. So I think it was a big sacrifice in the sense that a young man makes, but those are the courageous moments that some guys take.
“And we owe a tremendous amount to him for sure.”
Steve Kerr then chimed in, saying, “To me, it’s really hard to look at what’s going on right now with all the violence and the protests and not look back to four years ago and say, ‘Look, this guy [Kaepernick] was trying to peacefully protest and nothing came of it. The killings went on and nothing changed and he was actually ridiculed, so it’s a real tough one to think about.”
“I think probably the thing that has to be done before anything is an understanding and an awareness that there needs to be a reconciliation, an admission of guilt [speaking to the events that enslaved blacks in our country].”
“I don’t think it should be — this is not a message of, ‘Hey all you white people, you should feel guilty; this is your fault.’ That’s not the point. But this is the way our country is, it’s our responsibility to admit that this is what’s going on in our country, and let’s look at our past and let’s truly examine our past.”
“We have to go beyond and act and take the action, and it’s going to be a challenge for people, Carroll added. “I feel frustrated I’m not doing enough. I’m not on it enough. I can’t get active enough to create the change. I think we need to make progress, not just change.”
“I was in a TV room the other day with my 8-year-old granddaughter and I was watching the news; she happened to walk in,” Popovich said. “And it was the exact time when they were replaying the policeman with his knee on George Floyd’s neck. And I didn’t realize she was there. And I turned for whatever reason, I saw her standing there and she was just staring and she said, ‘Poppy, why does that man have his knee on that man’s neck? What is he doing?’
“And I was dumbfounded. I turned [the TV] off. And then I thought, ‘Should I have left it on and explained it to her? Or how do I explain it to her now that I have turned it off?’ I made some feeble attempt, but I didn’t know how far to go, how deep to go. What age is it? Is she ready or not ready?
Then I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a problem for me.’ And then I thought, ‘What about a black family?’ You think they have a problem talking to their kids and figuring out what’s going on here? So it’s so convoluted and complicated that … everything sort of fades away if we don’t have that initial admission, that sorrowful recognition of what went on in the past and what has continued.”
Kaepernick has remained unsigned by any of the league’s 32 teams since his protests.