Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has said that he believes the NFL must issue a formal apology to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. James has been one of the most vocal sports stars regarding the Black Lives Matter movement since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.
Attention over and support for the Black Lives Matter movement and taking a knee during national anthems has increased since Floyd’s death and 35-year-old James believes that the next step forward is the NFL apologizing for the way in which the league failed to support Kaepernick when he publicly made a stand in 2016.
“As far as the NFL, I’m not in those locker rooms, I’m not with those guys, but I do understand that an apology – I have not heard a true, official apology to Colin Kaepernick on what he was going through and what he was trying to tell the NFL and tell the world about why he was kneeling when he was doing that as a San Francisco 49er,” future hall-of-famer James told Bloomberg.
“I just see that to still be wrong. Now they are listening, but I still think we have not heard that official apology to a man who basically sacrificed everything for the better of this world.”
“One thing I can speak for is what I’m a part of,” James said. “I’m a part of a league with a great commissioner in Adam Silver and he’s always listened to the voices of his players and I’ve always respected him for that.
“He’s given us an opportunity that when we feel something that’s very wrong with society, that’s very wrong with what’s going on in our communities, that we can speak upon that and use the NBA’s shield to back us and I have nothing but respect for Adam Silver.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has recently admitted that the league was wrong for the way they treated Colin Kaepernick and other players who protested, but no formal apology has come from Goodell or the league itself. Despite Goodell’s admission, the league has still faced criticism for the lack of apology and the fact that any admission of wrongdoing has come years after Kaepernick was forced out of the league.
“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People,” Goodell said in a video on the NFL Twitter page.
“We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”
I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country,” the NFL commissioner added.
“Without black players there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.
“It has been a difficult time for our country. In particular, black people in our country,” Goodell continued.
At the time, Goodell claimed that he would be initiating conversations with individual players that had previously expressed discontent with the league and its attitude on certain topics. The issue that the majority of players are being most vocal about currently is the return to the league of Colin Kaepernick, but no movement on that front appears to be forthcoming. Naturally, it is up to team owners and staff rather than Goodell to sign Kaepernick, but players across the NFL and beyond believe that more should be done to help the 32-year-old return to the league.
“We’re standing here on behalf of Colin,” legendary wide receiver Terrell Owens told reporters while surrounded by a group of protesters during a march in Los Angeles in June.
“Those players want an apology from the commissioner [Roger Goodell] on behalf of the NFL and himself, because he was part of taking that direct order from the president of the United States not to re-sign this guy,” he continued.
“That in itself is systemic racism… it was a direct order from the president of the United States to those white owners not to re-sign Colin Kaepernick, who is a black quarterback.”
No NFL team has yet publicly expressed an interest in bringing Kaepernick into the building, but Seattle Seahawks owner Pete Carroll has said that he regrets not signing the quarterback previously, as well as claiming that he was contacted by members of a different team to inquire about the Wisconsin-born slinger.
“It would be crazy to not have him on your workout list,” Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said, according to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry.
“I haven’t spoken with Colin, not sure where he’s at as far in his career, what he wants to do, but Colin definitely fits the style of quarterback for the system that we’re going to be running.
“I’m very confident and happy with the three quarterbacks that I have but you can never have too many people waiting on the runway.”