Al Sharpton admonished NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at George Floyd’s funeral on Tuesday, stating he should allow Colin Kaepernick to return to the league.
“Oh, it’s nice to see some people change their mind,” Sharpton said during a eulogy at the private funeral in Houston. “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,” Sharpton said.
His remarks were met with loud applause from the congregation.
“Don’t come with some empty apology. Take a man’s livelihood. Strip a man down of his talents,” Sharpton also said. “And four years later, when the whole world is marching, all of a sudden, you … talking about you sorry.”
In a video released Friday, Goodell said the NFL was wrong for not listening to players fighting for racial equality and encouraged them to peacefully protest. Sharpton said Tuesday if Goodell was sorry, he should repair the damage he did to Kaepernick’s career.
“We don’t want an apology,” Sharpton said. “We want him repaired.”
Goodell’s apology came a day after some of the league’s biggest stars, including 2018 MVP and 2020 Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes, released a video demanding the league condemn the oppression of black people and to apologize for not supporting players who protested peacefully.
“It has been a difficult time for our country. In particular, black people in our country,” Goodell said in the video. “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.”
Goodell also said: “Without black players, there would be no National Football League. And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff. We are listening.”
Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody has ignited nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality — issues Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, began speaking out against in 2016 when he started taking a knee during the national anthem.
Kaepnernick has not played in the NFL since 2016. On May 30, Goodell was accused of hypocrisy and insincerity in his response to Floyd’s death and the protests that followed across the country.
“As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league,” Goodell said in his statement May 30. “These tragedies inform the NFL’s commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society.”
Director Ava DuVernay, Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills and Eric Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick who was the first player to join him in protest, were among the critics who said Goodell and the league had deliberately stifled Kaepernick and therefore had no right now to appear to be siding with protesters and their cause.
DuVernay, an ardent critic of the NFL, tweeted May 30: “Shame on you. This is beyond hollow + disingenuous.”
“This is a lie,” she continued. “Your actions show who you are. You’ve done nothing but the exact opposite of what you describe here. Keep Mr. Floyd’s name out of your mouth. Shame on you + the ‘consultants’ of this travesty of an organization.”