Anquan Boldin accepting the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award last February. Photo: John Salangsang/Invision for NFL/AP Images
The NFL’s long trajectory of prioritizing its profits over social responsibility has pushed Buffalo Bills receiver Anquan Boldin to walk away from his 14-year career with the organization.
Boldin made his announcement on Sunday night— just two weeks after signing a one-year $1.75 million contract with the Bills. Uncoincidentally, the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville also took place two weeks ago.
“I think anybody with any sense can see how divided we are as a country, and Charlottesville only magnified what we were already seeing,” the 36-year-old told The Associated Press on Monday. “That’s not the America that I want to live in. And I think the only way that this America changes is that we as a people stand up and change it.”
“There’s not enough money in this world for me to continue to allow the things that are going on to continue to spread,” the father of two continued.
The NFL’s reputation has been steadily souring as football free-agent Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled during the pre-game national anthem in protest of police brutality, continues to be blackballed by the league. Kaepernick remains unsigned with the 2017 NFL season commencing in just two weeks.
“We appreciate the time he gave us over the past two weeks,” Beane said. “He is one of the best receivers to play this game and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”
Boldin also reproached the NFL for turning its back on players who publicly stand for something.
“You have your players crying out for help,” he said. “That’s the reason why guys are taking knees during the anthem. Just because we’re professional athletes doesn’t mean we’re exempt from the things that go on in society. If I’m an owner and I see one of my family members — players — hurting, I’d do whatever I can to make sure that my family is OK.”
Although Boldin didn’t directly mention Kaepernick, he has been personally impacted by the rampant police brutality that the San Francisco 49er began taking a knee for last August. In 2015, Boldin’s cousin was killed by an off-duty officer on a Florida highway.
For those privy to Boldin’s commitment to social causes, his decision doesn’t come as a complete surprise. In 2015, he received the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes players who are committed to giving back.
He also founded The Q81 Foundation
, which dedicates itself to providing opportunities and resources to under-served children. Boldin will utilize his free time to focus on philanthropy,
which he believes to be his true calling.
“For me, it’s always been my life’s mission to help people in a number different ways whether it be in this country or this countries,” Boldin said in an interview with NFL Acces
s that aired Monday night. “But for the last couple of years I’ve been advocating for criminal justice reform. I’ve been trying to improve police-community relations across the board. I think where we are as a country now, it breaks my heart to see how divided we are and I don’t think it should be that way.”