NFL stars ask league to ‘admit wrong’ in silencing on-field protests

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (15) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

More than 15 NFL stars say they are asserting their right to peacefully protest and are asking the league to “admit wrong” in silencing its players from peacefully protesting.

In a video posted on Twitter by New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, players addressed the recent death of George Floyd, which has prompted protests across the world regarding racial injustices.

Others featured in the video include Patrick Mahomes, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson and Ezekiel Elliott.

Some players posed a hypothetical: “What if I was George Floyd?”

They proceeded to answer, “I am George Floyd,” followed by similar “I am” statements recognizing other African Americans who’ve died unjustly in recent years: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Michael Brown Jr., Samuel DuBose, Frank Smart, Phillip White and Jordan Baker.

“We will not be silenced,” the players said in the video. “We assert our right to peacefully protest. It shouldn’t take this long to admit.”

Then, the players asked the NFL to “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” “admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting” and to state that black lives matter.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick sparked a wave of demonstrations across the league after he kneeled during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since that season and settled a collusion case saying he was blacklisted because of the protests with the league last year.

The NFL released a statement five days after Floyd’s death that makes no mention of player protests. It also does not mention racism.

But the league’s statement closes this way: “We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”

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