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Adrian Peterson one of over 1,400 athlete signatures in Players Coalition's letter to end qualified immunity

Adrian Peterson one of over 1,400 athlete signatures in Players Coalition's letter to end qualified immunity

Redskins running back Adrian Peterson is one of the over 1,400 current and former players that signed a letter headed by the Players Coalition asking the United States Congress to pass a bill that would end qualified immunity.

Introduced by U.S. Representatives Justin Amash (L-Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) on June 4, the bill is known as the End Qualified Immunity Act or Amash-Pressley Act. Proposed on June 4, the act is a response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others due to police brutality. 

Qualified Immunity, which was first introduced during a 1967 Supreme Court case and later "clearly established" in 1982, allows for the protection of police officers and other public officials as it becomes difficult to involve them in civil suits. The passing of the bill would allow those who have suffered from police brutality to hold officers and other officials accountable for their actions.

The Players Coalition, which was founded by Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin, collected over 1,400 signatures from current and former NFL, NBA and MLB players and coaches to voice their support for the passing of the bill.

"We are more than 1,400 current and former professional athletes and coaches from across the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball in America. We are tired of conversations around police accountability that go nowhere, and we have engaged in too many “listening sessions” where we discuss whether there is a problem of police violence in this country," the letter said.

"There is a problem. The world witnessed it when Officer Chauvin murdered George Floyd, and the world is watching it now, as officers deploy enormous force on peaceful protestors like those who were standing outside of the White House last week. The time for debate about the unchecked authority of the police is over; it is now time for change."

In addition to Peterson,  Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ed Reed, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz and numerous other big-name sports figures signed the letter. Former Redskins running back Chris Thompson was also involved.

"It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity, and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley bill. When police officers kill an unarmed man, when they beat a woman, or when they shoot a child, the people of this country must have a way to hold them accountable in a court of law," the letter said. "And officers must know that if they act in such a manner, there will be repercussions."

RELATED: RIVERA WILL SUPPORT REDSKINS PLAYERS THAT KNEEL DURING NATIONAL ANTHEM

The support for the bill is the latest in a long line of actions taken by professional athletes as civil unrest and protests continue across the country. Peterson has already been vocal on the topic at hand, saying that he will "without a doubt" take a knee to peacefully protest during the 2020 season. Head coach Ron Rivera has since stated that he will support Peterson and others in their decision.

The NFL itself has begun to change its stance around protests, as commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement supporting the players following a powerful video that featured some of the sports' biggest names.

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Sports will play a role in fight for racial equality, and be held accountable when falling short of expectations

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Sports will play a role in fight for racial equality, and be held accountable when falling short of expectations

The industry of sports and entertainment will be one of the many agents of change if progress is to be made from the recent protests of racial injustices in America. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was aware of the platform professional sports provided him, which is why he used it to bring awareness to those very issues four years ago.

On Aug. 26, 2016, Kaepernick sat during the national anthem before a preseason game. It wasn’t the first time he had done so, but NFL reporters took notice this night and had questions.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick explained after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

His answer was very direct, and it came just a month after a black man named Philando Castile was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer on a traffic stop. One day earlier, another black man, Alton Sterling, was shot to death by officers in Louisiana. Both killings were caught on camera.

There was enough recent evidence for anyone who claimed to be unaware of police brutality against black people to see it as a real issue. For people already aware, or awakening to the reality, Kaepernick’s stance resonated and meant much more than a football game. But many fans decided to turn a blind eye to his message, twist his peaceful protest into a stance against the United States military. They didn’t want their privilege of not being burdened by the same systemic ills that have plagued black communities for generations to be inconvenienced before the start of a football game.

Support from the NFL would’ve gone a long way towards keeping the focus on Kaepernick’s issue. Instead, the league allowed his message to get lost in a sea of false narratives. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted as much Friday night in a statement that never directly addressed Kaepernick: "We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

With it solely on Kaepernick's shoulders to figure out how to respectfully get his point across, he had a conversation with former NFL player and U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer and decided to take a knee next to his teammates, instead of sitting on the bench alone. Still, the outrage over his protest continued -- spurred by comments from the U.S. President -- and he was exiled from the NFL.

The same things Kaepernick tried to bring awareness to have persisted since. Following the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, the country has witnessed mass protests, some not as peaceful as kneeling. But if real progress is to be made this time around, sports leagues and teams have to support their athletes in the face of resistance, athletes equipped to speak light to these issues should, and sports media has to report the facts every step of the way.

As some of the most visible people around the country and world, sports figures have voices that carry a lot of weight. Athletes also have the financial power to help in times like these, whether it be with lawyer and court fees or donations. Retired boxer Floyd Maywether paid for George Floyd's funeral. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was a friend of Floyd's, has been one of the most vocal and visible people during the protests. Bulls guard Zach Lavine used his platform in this moment to tell people to go vote, as have other athletes. With black players making up a large percentage of many leagues, it is the responsibility of those leagues to listen to their players and provide guidance, resources and support. If Kaepernick's very legitimate cause would've had support of the NFL and other stars, impactful actions could've been made sooner.

This is why Saints quarterback Drew Brees came under so much scrutiny this week for once again turning Kaepernick’s message into a debate over the flag. It's why Goodell had to release the aformentioned video condeming racism on behalf of the NFL. And why Knicks owner James Dolan faced backlash for an internal memo that said his sports and entertainment companies "are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters." It’s why you see other corporations, leagues, teams and athletes being held accountable for what they say, or don't say, during this time. If a statement is to be made, it needs to be bold and focus on the issues at hand: Racial injustices, police brutality and a flawed justice system. Anything less will be perceived by some as valuing financial interests more than black lives, at best. And at worst, not valuing black lives at all.

In Washington, we’ve seen several athletes and teams add their voices to the cause. The Wizards released a statement that set the tone with very direct messaging. "We will no longer tolerate the assasination of people of color in this country," read part of the statement, which is said to have come from guard Bradley Beal. He, along with Mystics guard Natasha Cloud, Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and Capitals goalie Braden Holtby have been amongst the most vocal amid protests.

Beal has been vital in bringing attention to important causes, even before people took to the streets, and he still hasn’t been immune to criticism for comments about looters. The Nationals and Redskins also faced varying degrees of backlash for their respective statements.

If we’re going to effect real change and progress on issues of race in this country, it’s going to take for everyone to get on the same page and stay there until something is done, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it might be. That includes our favorite leagues, teams, athletes and sports media outlets. What we're seeing now is that when we don’t live up to that expectation, we'll all be held accountable.

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Shannon Sharpe says Drew Brees should retire after anthem comments

Shannon Sharpe says Drew Brees should retire after anthem comments

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew criticism on Wednesday after saying he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country" when asked his thoughts about players kneeling during the national anthem. 

Several DMV athletes like Ed Reed and Mark Ingram shared their thoughts on Twitter. Many of Brees' teammates, such as Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders, along with many others, all voiced their dismay and disappointment of Brees' comments.

Former Baltimore Ravens tight end and co-host of FS1's Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe, spoke about why he disagreed with the quarterback's comments, saying that Brees should hang up the cleats as a result.

"I don't know what Drew is gonna do, but he probably should just go ahead and retire now," Sharpe said. "It will never be the same.

"Take it from a guy who's been a leader in the locker room for a number of years," Sharpe continued. "At every step, I've been the leader in the locker room. What he said, they will never look at him the same. It wasn't what he said, it's how he said it. It was the fire. I will NEVER respect the man."

Brees issued a long apology on Instagram on Thursday. He wrote that he recognizes that he can be "part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement" and vowed to "fight for what's right."

But for Sharpe, Brees' apology doesn't make up for the quarterback's initial comments.

"Brees still just doesn't seem to get it. He issued an apology, but it's meaningless," Sharpe said. "The guys know that he spoke his heart the very first time around."

The Hall of Fame tight end also took issue with Brees making kneeling for the national anthem about disrespecting the flag, when that was never the purpose behind ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a knee.

"Even after Colin Kaepernick told you what he was doing. Even after all of this, nobody mentioned the flag. He brought it up on his own," Sharpe said. "Drew, I don't know what you were thinking. I don't know what you hope to accomplish, but whatever you hope to accomplish, it failed miserably.

"Black people have been fighting for this country, even though they did not get the rights that the flag said," Sharpe continued. "The flag is supposed to mean something, it's supposed to mean everything. All people. Freedom. Liberties. But if a black man doesn't have the same freedom and liberty as the white, what good is the flag?"

Sharpe also expressed his disappointment that someone like Brees, who has spent the majority of his life playing football with a black men, to not understand the justice they are currently fighting for.

"What's made the black fight so hard is people like Drew Brees," Sharpe said. "If you can't get a guy that grew up with blacks in the locker room, from Peewee to high school to college to the NFL, to understand the black man's plight, who will? What about guys that are not around blacks on a daily basis?"

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