Our nation is hurting.
And no, I’m not sticking to sports because I want to be part of the solution.
It’s far too important for my kids, my community, and my country. A country still deeply fractured, even though protesters from coast to coast calling for change have created a beautiful tapestry woven from every shade of skin on the planet.
As we all navigate change, here’s a little direction. It's by no means the only thing I prescribe, but among the most important:
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listened when he 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 professional football players earlier.”
Goodell’s about-face is a sure signal change will come.
Texas native and Washington running back Adrian Petersen says he’ll definitely kneel during the anthem, as will plenty of other NFL stars.
We even got a preview Sunday from the sport the rest of the world calls football — several teams knelt before a soccer match in Germany’s Bundesliga.
I’ll keep this as apolitical as possible, because unfortunately nowadays, politics thrives on division— an issue that has bi-partisan support, unlike most others.
We need unity, though — only truly achieved through meaningful dialogue.
Not black vs. white, but right vs wrong.
Simple, until you throw in all the irrelevant arguments meant to distract.
The sort of distraction New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he fell victim to when he said he will "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America" when asked about kneeling protests.
"I’m sorry and I will do better," Brees said.
He says now he understands when Collin Kaepernick and other NFL players knelt, it wasn't to protest the flag or anthem, but the sort of inhumanity we saw play out in eight minutes and 46 seconds.
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Fact: Kaepernick knelt because a Green Beret, a decorated serviceman and former UT football player Nate Boyer, told him that would be more respectful than sitting.
Fact is, the courageous soldiers who have fought for our country, some of whom paid the ultimate price, did so to protect our right to protest.
Certainly you can disagree, but the sort of jingoistic "love it or leave it” response to Kaepernick from so many NFL fans is not at all what our flag stands for.
“You can fly the flag at your house. You can salute the flag. You can revere the flag. You can respect the flag and all of those are fine," TNT sports announcer Ernie Johnson said. What you cannot do is use the flag as a blindfold.”
I get it; it's easy to dismiss because it doesn’t affect many of you.
But like Brees, even that dismissal has an impact.
"It's easy for people to let things go because it doesn’t involve them. It’s like the neighborhood where you know there’s a dangerous corner and you know that something is going to happen some day and nobody does anything, and a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up," San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Well, without getting too political, we’ve got a lot of stop signs that need to go up, quickly."
Finally, I can’t make you believe me, but please...
The mistreatment of black people by police officers happens more than most of you would ever think possible.
No, not all cops are bad.
No, this isn’t giving some sort of free pass to all black people. We’re not some sort of monolithic group.
Bottom line: The issue is real, lethal for far too many and emblematic of the systemic racism that plagues our great country.
And it must stop.
Now that you’re perhaps tired of listening.
We can do the most important thing:
Act to make our country a better place with liberty and justice...for all.