Colin Kaepernick isn’t going away anytime soon, like it or not. Whether he suits up with another team or remains on the market to likely collect dust, the man has something he wants to say. Granted, millions of people have responded both negatively and positively to the many topics he has brought forth, it has initiated interesting conversations from even more interesting athletes. Basketball, football, boxing, and all other sports included, athletes have expressed their opinions of support, disagreement, and attempts at finding a stable middle ground in an unstable environment of political correctness.
For the sake of this article, however, there are five particular athletes who sparked some of the most “controversy” from their more left-leaning, and some right-leaning peers in sports news, while these individuals fall all over the spectrum themselves.
1.) Dez Bryant
The Pro Bowling wide receiver of the Dallas Cowboys may not have directly called out Kaepernick, but after taking a glimpse at one person quoting Charles Barkley on race, Dez took to Instagram to let his feelings be known to the world of social media. Little did he know, his thoughts would become prime material for sports critics both right and left for several weeks to come.
“First and foremost I would like to say I do a great job of minding my own business but it’s pressing on my heart to share my thoughts about white Americans & black Americans (racism). I saw a person quote Charles Barkley when he said, “We as black people we’re never going to be successful not because you white people but because other black people”. I hate to admit it but I understand that quote.
I’ve been racial profiled on numerous occasions but not once has it influenced an ill feeling inside me about anyone outside of that issue. REAL SLAVERY is different from what’s going on in our world now.. we all (every ethnicity) have the opportunity to lead by EXAMPLE. Instead of making videos about the history of racism that get applause or people with influence merely doing things to post for social media we should focus on individual accountability to be better as a whole.
I recently ran into a guy I grew up with who spent his adulthood dealing drugs. While we were catching up he shared with me that he wished he chose a different and better path. He said seeing my success was inspiring and that it encouraged him to do better with his life.
Real question what is wrong with being sophisticated and black? Why do we associate those who choose the straight and narrow as not being “black enough.” Why was it that I was one of the first examples of success to my friend? We focus hard on fighting the realities that exist instead of creating our own reality. The ones who came before us (Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X….) paved a new path for us to follow. The struggles and hurt they endured created new life for us today. It is not our job to carry the burden but it is our job to lead by example.”
When pressed last week on whether he would protest the national anthem himself, he remained consistent in his mission to lead by example.
“I’m not criticizing anybody,” he said. “They’re free to do whatever they want. Hell no, I’m not doing none of that. Their beliefs are their beliefs and I’m not saying that it’s wrong, because they’re feeling a certain way. They’re supposed to. I’m just saying I want to lead by example—by doing positive things. I’m not saying what they’re doing is wrong, but I have my own way of going about things.”
Clearly frustrated, he finished the question asked to him, “My whole thing about that whole situation, like, people think that I don’t care… that’s crazy.”
2.) Charles Barkley
We quoted him with Dez, so it is only fitting we line the great Charles Barkley up next. The NBA Hall of Fame power forward is no stranger to making critical and controversial statements, especially involving race, particularly during his interview on ESPN’s Dan Le Batard Show in July of 2016 where he discussed the outrage of white cops killing black people vs black people killing other black people.
“We have to sit back, and be honest with each other,” he began. “The cops have made some mistakes, that don’t give us the right to riot and shoot cops—we need the cops. Especially in the black community. We as black people, we’ve got to do better. We never get mad when black people kill each other, which, that always has bothered me. It’s always bothered me. And then somebody’s gonna scream, like, “Well, you can’t change the subject!” Well first of all, I’ve never changed the subject. I have always said that we as black people, if you want respect, you have to give each other respect.”
“Dan, I’ve been black my whole life. Most black people I know are killed by other black people, and I never understood why there’s not this moral outrage the way we treat each other as black people,” he said towards the end of the interview.
So once Kaepernick began his sitting and kneeling protest, Barkley was one of the first to say something, and he certainly did.
“You gotta actually do something,” he said. “Once you get off your knee, like, OK, what are you doing? Because football season is going to be over soon. And the question is: How long do you do it? When is it over?”
Barkley himself has donated millions of dollars out of his own pocket to black educational institutions, and even took it upon himself to begin a discussion with many people in his four-part video documentary on race relations in America, appropriately titled American Race, aired through TNT on May 11th and 12th.
Barkley himself, out of those we have listed here, may be the most lenient of the athletes in terms of positioning. During a recent interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Barkley stated that, “I think what Colin, is doing, has done, has been awesome. I think his cause is, is terrific. But, there are ramifications, and he’s paying for those. You, you know, for every action there is a reaction,” adding onto Ali’s 3 year ban from boxing after he refused to enter the draft.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s very unfortunate, but when you take a stance on certain things, there is a price to pay, it’s that simple.”
3.) Shaquille O’Neal
Four-time NBA champion, three of them back to back with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000-2002, 1999-2000 MVP, 15-time NBA All-Star, over 28,000 career points coupled with more than 13,000 rebounds, a 96 Olympics gold medal, and one of the hosts of Inside the NBA with the aforementioned Charles Barkley, are just some of the things that Shaq is known for.
Some of the things O’Neal is not known for, however, include his late stepfather and retired army sergeant Phil Harrison. His strong connection to law enforcement from his two uncles and overall interest in law enforcement since a teenager led him to becoming a reserve police officer with Port of Los Angeles, Miami Beach, Tempe, Golden Beach, and finally landing his current position with the Doral Police Department in Florida. O’Neal is also seriously considering a run for Sheriff in 2020, though he has residency in two separate counties, he has not specified where he would run.
So naturally, when asked by Fox News during his interview last year, he said what he needed to in true Shaq fashion.
“To each his own. It’s something I wouldn’t do,” he began. “You know, my question is, what happened last year? How come you didn’t decide to do this last year, or the year before that, or the year before that?”
“I would never do that. My father was a military man, and, you know, he protect [sic] this country . Uncles are in law enforcement, they go out and work hard every day. Just, you know, other ways to get your point across.”
When asked by Brian Kilmeade if it was possible to be African-American—implying that by skin color alone most people of similar persuasion would expect him to take one side by default—as well as pro-military and pro-cop, Shaq’s immediate response was, “Yes, I can be both. Again, my thing is, you know, you have to enter onto the scene one way. You know, people like Muhammed Ali and Bill Russell, they were one way their whole career. You can’t show us something, and then go to another, just because of certain issues,” speaking to his credibility.
“I’m aware of all the issues, but, you know, my question is, how come you didn’t do it last year, or how come you didn’t do it when you first entered the NFL? Again, I don’t know Colin, to each his own, you know, he has his, it’s his, you know, constitutional right to do that, but I would never do that.”
4.) George Foreman
Two-time heavyweight champion, 1968 Olympic gold medalist with a remarkable 76-5 (68 KOs) professional record, and the face of the world famous George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, or just George Foreman Grill as it is commonly known as, had a strong opinion Colin Kaepernick during his interview with Offended America Podcast, beginning at 22:00.
“The greatest day of my life was when I put on my colors representing the United States in the Olympics,” he said. “I love the United States. I love the flag. But there a lot of people who haven’t found that reason. They don’t strive. They haven’t been brought up with people who were patriotic to even point them in the right direction.”
“A lot of us died in war so that he could have that privilege.”
Foreman is also a long-time friend and supporter of President Trump, their relationship sealed forever when Trump personally supported the boxer in his bid to reclaim his world title against Evander Holyfield, Tommy Morrison, and ultimately claiming victory against Michael Moorer after a string of loses in title matches prior.
After facing considerable backlash for his comments, Foreman eased off the gas, neutrally stating that, “This guy’s a great football player. I can’t see why he doesn’t have a job. He’s that good.”
5.) Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.
A name that is still ringing in everybody’s heads from this past weekend, Floyd Mayweather is considered by many to be one of the greatest boxers of all time, retiring after an explosive battle against the great UFC Champion Conor McGregor to lock in his final win and fight, surpassing the legendary Rocky Marciano and achieving the greatest record in boxing history at 50-0.
The just recently retired boxer, interviewed just before his fight against McGregor, touched on the topic during an interview with “The Boxing Voice,” stating, “I’m here to say all lives matter.”
“A lot of times we get stuck, and we are followers. You hear one person say, ‘Black lives matter’, or ‘Blue lives matter’, all lives matter.”
He continued, “What I learned from boxing—what everyone can take in real life—is follow directions and follow order. Don’t give nobody a hard time.”
When the interviewer pressed for his opinion on Colin Kaepernick, Mayweather pulled no punches, but conducted his opinion professional, as a professional should.
“Kaepernick needs to… stand up and get the starting job. That’s what he needs to focus on, but I can’t knock him. If that’s what he believes in and people want to stand by him, then so be it.”
“It’s not right what’s going on within this world on both sides. I think we need to communicate better, we need to follow direction.”
Taking what we can from these athletes, quite a few of them do not hold ill feelings towards Kaepernick, in spite of their varying degrees of disagreement. Rather than jump to one extreme over the other, these five expressed different ways to make your point, approaching ideas differently, and as Dez Bryant stated at the beginning, we all have the opportunity to lead by example.