In the past month, we’ve cringed as we listened to former football players and black men criticize blackballed football player Colin Kaepernick. From advising him to cut his hair and keep his politics off the field, these men have publicly told Kaepernick he should essentially be quiet, keep his Black power fist down and adhere to respectability politics as they do.
It’s been almost a year since the free agent faced a barrage of criticism for taking a knee during the national anthem to protest brutality. But on Tuesday, an ESPN reporter and fellow Black man came to the defense of the former San Francisco 49ers quartback. He also condemned all of the football players who have chastised and/or remained silent.
ESPN Senior Writer Howard Bryant told ESPN’s Cari Champion that every brother on the field “should be ashamed of themselves.”
Some notable figures like Richard Sherman, J. Cole and Spike Lee have spoken out in support of Kaepernick. But the criticism has overshadowed those voices of reason. In July, Michael Vick advised Kaepernick to cut his afro to increase his chances of securing a spot on a team. Last week, Kordell Stewart and Ray Lewis advised the 29-year-old to keep his opinions away from the playing field.
But the Black players weren’t the only ones Bryant held accountable.
“The White players in the NFL should be ashamed of themselves,” Bryant said. “If you’re a union… You have to send some type of message that this isn’t acceptable.”
“This is not a political issue to me, it’s a labor issue…you have to stick together on all of these issues… The game is owners vs players,” he continued. “We have not had any football coaches, GM’s or owners say we don’t think Colin Kaepernick is good enough to play in our league,” Bryant said. “So why are we making excuses about him?… Players need to stand up because if you fight this battle, you can win other battles.”
The ESPN columnist expounded on his argument afterwards on Twitter.
One of the real subtexts to Kap story is how beaten the American worker is in thinking corporations should be able to do anything they want.
— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) August 4, 2017
Bryant added he had a three hour phone conversation with Kaepernick. He told Champion the free agent is all for participating in the upcoming football season.
A Change.org petition has called for a boycott of the NFL if he isn’t signed by a team before the 2017 season kicks off. After reaching 100,000 signatures, the petition was sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and 32 of the league’s team owners.
NFL owners, we’re looking at you.