Donald Trump

Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion

Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion

Programming note: Watch the full interview with Nate Boyer and Charles Woodson on tonight’s episode of “Race In America: A Candid Conversation” on NBC Sports Bay Area at 8 p.m., hosted by Monte Poole and Logan Murdock.

Just before the 49ers' penultimate preseason game of 2016, quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench as the National Anthem played at Levi's Stadium. Following the game, he explained the gesture was a protest against police brutality. 
It wasn't Kaepernick's first foray into activism. He was inspired to protest by the murder of Mario Woods, who was killed by San Francisco police after an alleged stabbing in 2015. But this was the first time he used the NFL's platform to convey his message and the response was mixed. While he got some support, many league faces like New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees criticized the protest, saying it disrespected the military. Others, like President Donald Trump, later offered the same refrain. 
Former NFL long snapper Nate Boyer harbored similar feelings. Inspired to join the military after the Sept. 11th attacks, later becoming a Green Beret. Boyer, a white male, saw the flag as a symbol of his fallen comrades in the line of duty. But instead of openly criticizing Kaepernick, he sought to understand his point of view. 

"That really hurt me," Boyer said. "But I also was like, "All right, don't just react because of your emotions."

The two met days after Kaepernick's initial protest, just before the 49ers' preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers. In the hotel lobby, Boyer told Kaepernick about his experiences with the flag. About the time he brought one of his best friends home in a casket draped with the flag. How standing for the anthem meant he was in solidarity with his fallen soldiers. But Kaepernick had a different take on the anthem and how the lyrics "liberty and justice for all" didn't always apply to Black people. At the end of the meeting, Kaepernick asked Boyer a question.

"Nate, do you think there's another way I could demonstrate or protest that won't offend people in the military?"

Boyer suggested Kaepernick kneel for the anthem and the quarterback agreed. However, despite Boyer's recommendation, Kaepernick's biggest detractors maintained the talking point that the QB's new method of protest was disrespectful to anyone that had served. The stubbornness showed that even when a person's message is crystal clear, critics will use talking points to dilute it, instead of talking things out to enact real change. 

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

While Kaepernick was settling into a new form of protest, former Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson was starting his post-playing career in broadcasting at ESPN. He had experienced racism during his youth. 

"I remember one time in probably middle school where we got into it with some folks down the street from my house, and the police rode up on us, man, into our neighborhood and cop has his gun out," Woodson recalled. "He's shaking like a leaf. I'm sitting there standing still and I'm talking to the officer. It's almost as if I'm trying to talk him down, but I'm like, "Hey, man, I'm not moving. I see you shaking, man. I'm not moving, and I'm not going to move."
As Kaepernick remained steadfast in his decision to kneel, Woodson noticed the message behind it continued to be distorted by those criticizing him. 
"People put him on opposite sides of the flag, and that's the way it was presented," Woodson explained. "This is Colin Kaepernick. He's protesting against America. Maybe he doesn't want to be here. He doesn't respect our military. He doesn't respect the flag. And it's like the entire message that he put forth just went right over everyone's head."
Kaepernick kept kneeling and the criticism kept coming, even as police kept killing citizens. Trump continued his verbal onslaught, tweeting players should be "fired" for kneeling. At a rally in Alabama, Trump used inflammatory language in arguing that owners should discipline players who kneeled during the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b---h off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired! You know, some owner is gonna do that."
All the while police kept killing unarmed Black people. In 2018, Stephon Clarke was killed by Sacramento authorities in his backyard. Police shot 20 rounds, thinking Clarke had a gun. Following the shooting, only a cell phone was recovered on Clarke's person. More disturbing, both police officers involved were cleared of all charges. 
Nearly two years later, George Floyd -- a 46-year-old Black man -- died after fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin -- a white man -- pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe." Floyd was detained after a store owner alleged he used a counterfeit $20 bill. Police also initially alleged he resisted arrest, but nearby surveillance footage disputed those claims. Since Floyd's death, protests have sprouted around the globe, including Germany and Australia.
As the protests grew in numbers, Kaepernick's name was brought up again, only now with much more reverence. Numerous athletes began plotting out similar protests when their respective sports returned from the coronavirus-inflicted hiatuses. Nonetheless, Brees was still among those pushing back with similar rhetoric, criticizing the form of protest while continuing to miss the point.

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“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees told Yahoo Finance earlier this month. "I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II -- one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. … Is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together.”
This time, however, it was Brees catching the brunt of the criticism, with pundits and players alike reminding him why Kaepernick protested in the first place. But therein lies the problem in today's world. Folks tend to stick to talking points instead of conversing with one another to enact real change. Instead, more should take the route of Boyer and try to understand what the historically-disenfranchised race has been going through for centuries. Maybe then, we can see real change.
"People are kind of gravitating towards one side of an issue or another side of an issue, and not really wanting to hear the other side's opinion or consider the other side's perspective as being valid," Boyer said. "Which is very unhealthy and dangerous."

Jack Del Rio goes on controversial Twitter rant, supports Donald Trump

Jack Del Rio goes on controversial Twitter rant, supports Donald Trump

Former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio made some controversial Twitter waves Tuesday night.

Washington's defensive coordinator went on a political tirade, beginning with a quote tweet containing a fabricated picture of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Rule No. 1 on Twitter is don't tweet. Rule No. 2 is to make sure the thing you're tweeting about is factual.

Del Rio then tweeted his support for President Donald Trump and told others to go kiss his ... well, you know.

Del Rio was hired by Ron Rivera this offseason to help reshape the defense in DC, but the team declined to comment on the tweets.

[RELATED: Edwards' ability to fill Deebo's role should excite Raiders]

Del Rio's tweets came a few days after Trump said he wouldn't watch the NFL if players kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Washington running back Adrian Peterson is one of the players who has said he will take a knee next season, along with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, among others.

Del Rio, a Castro Valley native who attended Hayward High School, went 25-23 in three seasons as coach of the Raiders, and was fired following the 2017 season to make way for Jon Gruden's return. Before that, Del Rio was the Jacksonville Jaguars' coach for nine seasons (2003-11), going 68-71 with only one playoff win in three games.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Hard to believe Roger Goodell, NFL truly want Colin Kaepernick back in league

Hard to believe Roger Goodell, NFL truly want Colin Kaepernick back in league

Programming note: Tune in to "Race in America: A Candid Conversation" on Friday night at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

The NFL is shouting from its ivory basement that it is in the midst of an awakening, that it now realizes its banishment of Colin Kaepernick was overtly punitive and, moreover, that it would like to make amends.

Can you imagine?

Hello, Colin. This is the NFL. Happy Juneteenth! What’s good, bruh? Hey, look, we’re trying to put together a 2020 season. We don’t know what it’s gonna look like, but we wondered if you’d be willing to join us. We have 32 teams, and some of them could use a quarterback. Did you hear Anthony Lynn, the Chargers’ coach – who is, by the way, one of our Black head coaches – talking you up the other day?

According to the words of commissioner Roger Goodell on two occasions this month, presumably speaking for team owners, the road back to the NFL has been cleared for the former 49ers quarterback.

Dr. Ameer Hasan Loggins is among the millions not buying it. The longtime confidant of Kaepernick, a panelist on “Race In America: A Candid Conversation,” on NBC Sports Bay Area Friday night at 8 p.m. is unsparing in his scrutiny.

“First of all, as a writer and as a scholar, you pay attention to words,” Loggins says. “And initially (Goodell’s comments on June 5), he didn’t even mention Colin’s name, right? It was something like he was bouncing back and forth with the players until they got to a point where they were like, ‘Apologize to all the players that protested.’ And it was like ‘Hey, I can’t touch that because it’s also inclusive of Colin.’

“Then he came back (in a June 15 ESPN interview), and it was a thing where it was like ‘I would encourage.’ It was a certain ... encouraging is not demanding. I’m also aware of the fact that maybe two, three weeks ago the NFL retired Colin mysteriously.”

The NFL on May 22, on its redesigned web site, listed Kaepernick as “retired.” Never mind that Kaepernick had not announced any such decision. Or that he set up a workout last November hoping to impress NFL teams enough to get an invitation.

Loggins’ skepticism is warranted. Though it has become fashionable in recent weeks for American institutions to craft statements condemning racist behavior while vowing to be more diverse and less offensive, history is rife with instances of words and gestures not put into practice.

To be blunt, such promises have been used as social opiates to mollify the restless. Has America ever been more broadly restless than now?

“Understanding that I’m not a prisoner of the moment and I’m recognizing that what Goodell is doing is trying to put forth a certain kind of image onto the necessity of seeming as if they’re willing to accept Colin,” Loggins says.

“But you’re not calling him. You’re talking all this talk on your whatever Zoom chats, in whatever little dungeon you’re in, doing that talk. But have you reached out to Colin Kaepernick and his agent or his lawyer? Because that’s when I know it’s real.”

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

It has been almost 42 months since Kaepernick appeared in an NFL game. In a short span of time, he went from being the NFL’s most sensational quarterback, leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl, to its most visible pariah. From being the league’s new wave to being not good enough to make rosters with three quarterbacks whose combined gifts might equal half of his.

All because he kneeled during the pregame national anthem to express his honest and fair concern about racial injustice and police brutality inflicted upon black people in America.

“In order for Colin Kaepernick to not receive a single call in the last four years – and I’m telling you as someone who knows him – that he has not received that call,” Loggins says. “That was coordinated, because that means everyone came together collectively at the same time and decided that this one person was not worthy of being included into this space anymore. And that’s not happenstance that something that has to be colluded or done behind the scenes.

"So, I take it as a PR, just like everybody else. I take it the same way that those police that are taking knees in the daytime and beating the hell out of people at night, I take it that way.”

[RELATED: Why Kap not having an NFL job makes Rapinoe 'so pissed']

It doesn’t matter that Goodell is wearing the face of the advocate for Kaepernick. Or that President Donald Trump this week – three years after urging NFL owners to fire “those sons of bitches” daring to kneel – is now saying he’d support Kaepernick getting another chance.

It’s hard for anyone who has followed this saga since 2017 to take either man at his word. Each is aware of the multicultural energy toward justice and is formulating a new agenda. Trump is what he’s always been. And Goodell, his credibility near zero, knows he has nothing to lose.