“Some people change their mind,” Sharpton said. “The head of the NFL said: ‘Yeah, maybe we was wrong. Football players, maybe they did have the right to peacefully protest.’ Well, don’t apologize. Give Colin Kaepernick a job back.
“Don’t come with some empty apology. Take a man’s livelihood. Strip a man down of his talents and four years later, when the whole world is marching, all of a sudden you go and do a FaceTime, talk about you sorry? Minimizing the value of our lives. You sorry? Then repay the damage you did to the career you stood down ’cause when Colin took a knee, he took it for the families in this building. And we don’t want an apology. We want him repaired.”
Sharpton’s remarks drew applause from the crowd of mourners.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season when, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, he began the players’ movement of protesting during the national anthem to bring attention to racial inequality and police mistreatment of African Americans. Kaepernick settled a collusion grievance accusing the league and team owners of conspiring to keep him out of the sport in violation of its collective bargaining agreement.
In a video released Friday by the NFL, Goodell said: “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. 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. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
The NFL did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment on Sharpton’s remarks.
Goodell’s video was released on the day after a group of prominent NFL players, including quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, released a video calling on the league to address those issues. Goodell’s comments Friday closely mirrored the wording of the language in the players’ video. Some observers have criticized Goodell for not mentioning Kaepernick by name. Kaepernick also was not specifically mentioned in the players’ video.
New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins told CBS earlier Tuesday that the NFL has not “gotten it right” and will not “end up on the right side of history” until the league apologizes specifically to Kaepernick or he is signed by a team. Jenkins — co-founder of the Players Coalition, a group that negotiated a social justice partnership with the league — said the league has listened to players and donated money to its social justice initiatives but has failed to acknowledge Kaepernick.
Seattle Seahawks running back Carlos Hyde, a former 49ers teammate of Kaepernick’s, told reporters Monday that a team signing Kaepernick would “show that they’re really trying to move in a different direction.”
Some participants in last week’s player video, including New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas and Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, praised Goodell’s comments Friday.
President Trump renewed his criticism Monday of NFL players who protest during the anthem. Trump pointed to Goodell’s remarks and wrote on Twitter that such protests by players are disrespectful to “our Country [and] our Flag.”
The NFL attempted to arrange a workout for Kaepernick in front of teams last year at the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility. But negotiations between the league and Kaepernick’s representatives fell apart over details of the workout, and he worked out for a smaller number of teams at an Atlanta-area high school instead. Some people in and around the league have said Goodell has encouraged owners to keep Kaepernick in mind and consider adding him, but that has not resulted in him being signed.