Colin Kaepernick’s stance on police brutality and social change changed the world of football and sports in general.
It polarized the nation and drew a distinct line across socioeconomic and racial lines. However, as Kaepernick’s stature rose symbolically as a warrior for justice, some members of football’s athletic brotherhood believe Kaepernick dropped the ball.
One of which is former Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant.
The Bryant Perspective
— Sports Now with Darius & Aiden (@SportsNow_DA) September 27, 2021
“I respect Colin Kaepernick,” Bryant said as a guest on the “I Am Athlete” podcast. “But there’s one thing that I don’t respect, and I said when I get the opportunity and to get on the stage to say it, I would say it, and I love him to death. So it ain’t no hate or nothing like that.
“But brother, you had the biggest opportunity in the world to create jobs, build jobs, get jobs for people. The people that you was talking about, people that you so-called standing up for.”
— Channing Crowder (@OfficialCrowder) September 27, 2021
Bryant discussed athletic unity with podcast host Brandon Marshall when he went on an extended rant that veered into Kaepernick territory.
“The people who stood beside you, the people who lost their jobs because of you, where you at? I ain’t heard from you. I reached out to you where you at. He brought the awareness and that’s why I respect him.”
Brandon Marshall followed up with, “What’s the call to action?
Bryant followed with, “there wasn’t one, there wasn’t no call to action.”
The current Baltimore Raven criticized fellow NFL players for tweeting Black Lives Matter messages once the NFL stance changed during the protest movement. He felt that those who followed what he considered an NFL mandate to support the protest movement online were not genuine.
“It’s just like I see all these athletes, I hear them on Twitter, they be writing these cool ass captions,” he continued. “I’d be like, ‘Hey the NFL told you to put out a Black Lives Matter tweet and you did it. But I ain’t see you do it.’ That’s a difference.”
Bryant also said he “reached out” to Kaepernick but was unsuccessful.
The “Know Your Rights” mission aims to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass mobilization, and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.
The NFL free agent has also assisted with COVID-19 relief, specifically focusing on helping communities of color “disproportionately” impacted by COVID-19.
In addition, $800,000 was earmarked in grants to 13 charitable groups affected by the pandemic. The organization also teamed up with Impossible Foods to assist those experiencing food insecurity from the pandemic’s start.
The money allocated to charitable giving has also been spread out vastly.
Kaepernick’s charity helped pay the legal defense for people arrested in protests following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Derek Chauvin. The organization pledged $200,000 to organizations in key cities like Detroit, Miami, and Atlanta to help cover bail funds. They have also provided $450,000 in grants for essential living costs and rent relief.
The Social Media Effect
Many paused at Bryant’s statement on social media, including Jemele Hill, who came for him on Twitter.
With all due respect @DezBryant, this is uninformed. Colin Kaepernick has created a publishing company, a SPAC that’s raising $300M for social justice initiatives, a production company, etc. On top of founding the Know Your Rights Camp. I don’t get the point of dragging his name. https://t.co/rKt6GUlHmg
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 27, 2021
“With all due respect @DezBryant, this is uninformed. Colin Kaepernick has created a publishing company, a SPAC that’s raising $300M for social justice initiatives, a production company, etc. On top of founding the Know Your Rights Camp. I don’t get the point of dragging his name.”
I’m a product of media hate so I get it.. @jemelehill you could have called me & got a better understanding of what I was saying ..but you have your own motive… I’ve reached out to kap for yrs and no response…raising 300 mil would be easy if we had unity amongst athletes 🤔 https://t.co/lDxy62bEYC
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) September 27, 2021
Bryant responded to Hill, “I’m a product of media hate so I get it.. @jemelehill you could have called me & got a better understanding of what I was saying ..but you have your own motive… I’ve reached out to kap for yrs and no response…raising 300 mil would be easy if we had unity amongst athletes.”
I don’t know everything @jemelehill
Invite me on your show and let’s talk about it
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) September 28, 2021
Bryant was clear that his statement wasn’t to be taken out of context as a rebuke of Kaepernick, and his angst stems from his overtures to Kaepernick not being returned.