Roughly 10 days ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a strong statement condemning police brutality and racial injustice. The video from the commissioner came as a response to a video that some of the league's brightest stars put together the day prior calling out Goodell and the NFL for not making a statement sooner following the death of George Floyd on May 25.
To San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, the commissioner's statement was hypocritical, considering the way he handled the Colin Kaepernick situation just a few years earlier.
"A smart man is running the NFL and he didn't understand the difference between the flag and what makes the country great -- all the people who fought to allow Kaepernick to have the right to kneel for justice," Popovich said to The New York Times' Maureen Dowd. "The flag is irrelevant. It's just a symbol that people glom onto for political reasons, just like [Dick] Cheney back in the Iraq war."
Kaepernick, of course, knelt for the national anthem for the entirety of the 2016 NFL season as a way to peacefully protest against police brutality and raise awareness of racial issues in the country. The quarterback's decision to kneel for the anthem outraged many people, including President Donald Trump, who thought it was a sign of disrespect.
During a rally in 2017, Trump called for NFL owners to ‘get that son of a b----’ off the field in response to NFL players who were peacefully protesting such as Kaepernick and Eric Reid.
"[Goodell] got intimidated when Trump jumped on the kneeling," Popovich said. "He folded."
The quarterback parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers following the 2016 season, the lone year he knelt for the anthem, and has been an unsigned free agent since. Many feel that Kaepernick has been blackballed by all 32 NFL owners due to his decision to kneel. Kaepernick reached a settlement with the NFL last February on the matter.
Popovich has done his part to speak out about police brutality and racial injustice. In a video released by the Spurs, Popovich spoke for three-plus minutes about why he believes the United States "is in trouble."
“It’s got to be us that speak truth to power, that call it out no matter the consequences. We have to not let anything go. Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”#SpursVoices pic.twitter.com/uTyOIzGnTg— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) June 6, 2020
It's uncertain if Kaepernick will ever get another shot to play, but his impact will be seen on multiple NFL sidelines in 2020.
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