Colin Kaepernick rips NFL’s social justice gestures as ‘propaganda’

National News

Colin Kaepernick called the NFL’s social justice initiatives “propaganda” during the league’s opening weekend on Sunday. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who remains unsigned, first led the kneeling protests during the national anthem in 2016 to bring attention to police brutality and racial injustice. 

Amid renewed Black Lives Matter protests, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted in June that the league was “wrong” in taking so long to acknowledge the message behind the kneeling protests. Since then, the NFL has taken largely symbolic steps like allowing racial justice messages in end zones and on helmets and T-shirts.  Kaepernick apparently does not believe the NFL is sincere about its advocacy and accused the league of “blackballing” free agent safety Eric Reid. 

“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) for fighting for the Black community,” Kaepernick tweeted Sunday. “Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league.”

As a member of the Carolina Panthers, Reid finished last season with 130 tackles and four sacks – both franchise records for a defensive back. However, he was let go by the team earlier this year. 

Reid joined Kaepernick in the kneeling protests when they were both members of the 49ers, and he has been critical of the NFL. In 2017, Kaepernick and Reid filed grievances against the league, alleging they were unsigned because owners collaborated to keep them out of the league over the kneeling protests. They reached a private settlement in 2019. 

On Monday, Reid said the league’s efforts to put a spotlight on the racial justice issues was “half-hearted at best.” 

@nflcommish has gotten comfortable saying he ‘was wrong’ as if his mere acknowledgement reconciles his admitted wrongdoing,” Reid tweeted. “He hasn’t even called Colin to apologize, let alone reconcile, proving this is only PR for the current business climate. As such, Roger Goodell uses video of Colin courageously kneeling to legitimize their disingenuous PR while simultaneously perpetuating systemic oppression, that the video he’s using fights against, by continuing to rob Colin of his career. It’s diabolical.” 

Goodell has not explicitly apologized to Kaepernick. In an interview last month, Goodell said he should have “listened earlier” to Kaepernick. 

Meanwhile, players and coaches on several teams participated in on-field demonstrations before, during and after the “Star Spangled Banner” as the NFL season kicked off, and are expected to continue throughout the season. Some teams did not emerge from the locker room for the anthem. Multiple team owners pledged money toward social justice causes or offered their stadiums as polling places for the November election.

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