NFL stars' protest clip asks league to admit it silences voices like Kaepernick's: 'What if I was George Floyd?'
The video features 17 stars including Saquon Barkley, Patrick Mahomes and Odell Beckham Jr
National Football League players, including Saquon Barkley, Patrick Mahomes and Odell Beckham Jr, released a powerful video on Thursday, June 4, demanding the league to release a statement condemning racism and admit to silencing players like Colin Kaepernick from peacefully protesting.
At least 18 NFL players released a video in the wake of George Floyd's killing, and called out the league for silencing protesters. They also urged the NFL officials to "listen to your players" in defense of black lives.
You can watch the powerful video message here.
At the beginning of the clip, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, can be heard saying: "It's been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered." Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu then asks: "How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players?" Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins asks: "What will it take?" Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry challenges: "For one of us to be murdered by police brutality?"
The video also features several new faces in the NFL, including Sterling Shepard and Jamal Adams, as they all list the names of black victims of police brutality in the country. "I am George Floyd. I am Breonna Taylor. I am Ahmaud Arbery. I am Eric Garner. I am Laquan McDonald. I am Tamir Rice. I am Trayvon Martin. I am Walter Scott. I am Michael Brown Jr. I am Samuel DuBose. I am Frank Smart. I am Phillip White. I am Jordan Baker," the players collectively say as they pose their demands before the league.
"We will not be silenced. We assert our right to peacefully protest. It shouldn't take this long to admit," the players say. "So, on behalf of the National Football League, this is what we, the players, would like to hear you state: 'We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.'"
Reports state that the collaborative video message was initiated by Saints receiver Michael Thomas in response to Saints quarterback Drew Brees' controversial statement. Brees had released a statement on Wednesday, June 3, saying he can "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America" during an interview with Yahoo Finance. He was referring to the NFL players, headed by Colin Kaepernick, kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality in the country.
Brees later issued an apology on Instagram after he was slammed by his fellow teammates, other NFL stars and LeBron James. "I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday," he wrote on Instagram. "In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused."
The NFL, last week, was slammed by social media users for releasing a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as many pointed out the treatment the league had meted out to Kaepernick.
Kaepernick hasn’t played a down since opting out of his contract in 2016, the same year the quarterback began his protest when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. The player stirred a national controversy in an effort to protest police brutality in the country. Other players soon took his cue and joined the protest in the 2016 season, while many others have continued the protest till now.
Kaepernick's move drew heavy criticism from President Donald Trump, who even called for the owners of the NFL teams to fire the players who were participating in it. The NFL, last year, in 2017, announced a rule which required all the players to stand during the national anthem. The association, however, gave an option to the players to stand off the field until the ceremony was over instead of kneeling outside.
Kaepernick has continued to keep in shape, in hope that a franchise will sign him and he will get to play again. The quarterback, who had led San Francisco to the 2013 Super Bowl, last February had reached a confidential settlement with the NFL after alleging that the league blackballed him. The NFL had arranged tryouts for the quarterback at Atlanta Falcons training facility in Georgia last year, however, the location was shifted to a high school stadium at the last minute. Kaepernick, while commenting on the change, had stated that it was done so that the media could be present. Reports state that Kaepernick's team decided to move the location of his workout after they accused the NFL of not acting rightfully.