Over the last month, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.
NBC Sports Washington is launching the third part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America. This week, Calais Campbell joined Chris Miller for the last of these roundtable discussions to share his experiences, thoughts and how they’re using their platforms in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.
When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee in 2016, society certainly noticed. From players to politicians, everyone has an opinion on the very public protest. However at times, it seemed like some misunderstood Kaepernick’s intended message, but not 12-year NFL veteran Calais Campbell.
“Without a doubt, I knew from the first time he took a knee, when I heard him speak, that it was about police brutality and oppression,” Campbell told Chris Miller during a recent ‘Race in America’ roundtable. “To me it was never about the flag, and I feel like people started talking about it being about disrespect to the flag was distracting what the real message was.”
RACE IN AMERICA: WATCH THE FULL ROUNDTABLE HERE
Campbell, who was traded to the Baltimore Ravens this offseason, won the 2019 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award for demonstrating both outstanding community service and excellence on the field. A defensive captain for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, Campbell has never been afraid to lead both on and off the field. The 5-time Pro Bowl defensive end felt the need to lead his teammates once again with scrutiny of pregame protests still grabbing headlines.
“Everybody knew the backlash: if you knee it was going to be tough, and the problem was is that not enough of us had courage to knee,” Campbell said. “I did knee one time, because I wanted to show my teammates that it was ok because there were a lot of guys who wanted to knee but they were scared. I knew I was in a better position where I wouldn’t probably get cut for kneeing, so I took a knee one time.”
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Campbell has built a reputation for giving back to the community while using his platform to truly make a difference, something he feels Kaepernick did back in 2016.
“He really put himself on a pedestal and said, ‘I’m going to sacrifice myself for the greater good of all people,’” Campbell said of Kaepernick. “As Black people in America throughout our history, there has been so much oppression, so much brutality that people are like, ‘Yeah, well you have it better than it used to be. You shouldn’t complain so much because it’s a lot better than it used to be.’ It’s like well nah, I mean it’s still bad!”
To watch the full roundtable discussion, featuring Campbell, Robert Griffin III and Mike London, click here.
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