Over the weekend, Donald Trump launched an attack on NFL players who kneel in protest of police brutality and racial injustices during the National Anthem. In the movement that started more than 14 months ago, when Colin Kaepernick took a knee against racial oppression and inequality, many were opposed to his decision to kneel during the national song. However, others supported the movement, as the protest was never about the anthem or the flag, but about what it represents for some and not others.
After Trump challenged NFL owners to fire the “sons of bitches” who disrespect the flag and country by kneeling during the anthem, many were inclined to react, including those who were previously opposed.
In Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Ray Lewis, who continuously condemned Kaepernick for starting the movement last season, took a knee during the anthem. In turn, several called out Lewis for his hypocrisy, including one of his “very best friends,” FS1 “Undisputed” host, Shannon Sharpe.
“I’m very disappointed in one of my very best friends, Ray Lewis,” Sharpe said on-air Monday. “Ray Lewis sat in that chair right there and said he could never kneel, he could never not stand for the national anthem because so many people died and he had family members that fight for this country… and the flag means so much to him and he kneeled. Not on one knee – on both knees. So what are you kneeling for?” he asked – speculating that his decision was solely based on Trump’s comments.
“And that’s what I find so ironic about this, Skip,” Sharpe continued. “The very people that said they would never, ever kneel – I just want to know what are you unifying against?…Are you showing solidarity against racism or the [injustice] that’s in this country? Or are you showing solidarity against President Trump and what he said? His attack on the very NFL…because what we know about above all else, those 32 [coaches] and the commissioner will protect the NFL shield at all cost against all foreign and domestic [enemies]. President Trump had to find that out the hard way.”
Lewis was not Sharpe’s only concern in the wake of Trump’s divisive comments. He also revealed that he was disappointed and unimpressed by the entire ordeal.
“I’m disappointed. And I’m unimpressed. I’m disappointed, Skip, and Joy, because this is the tipping point. Of the 7,537 things that President Trump has said in the last 50 years, him calling an NFL player an SOB is what brought the NFL, the owners and its players, together. And while some might be moved by the conscience of these NFL owners, it wasn’t their conscience that moved them. It was the cash,” he said.
“- Because see Skip, what we know about people with money, they don’t like being told what to do. They don’t like being bullied. You see, President Trump has bullied a lot of people. The very first thing that he uttered as he strolled down that escalator 2 and 1/2 years ago, is that Mexico is sending us their worst, murderers, rapists, drug dealers. That didn’t shock the conscience of the NFL owner,” he continued,
“So what are we uniting against? What are we standing for now? If that is what it took, what he said, if that’s what shocked your conscience. If that made you choose to unite, so be it. But there’s a bigger issue, and the issue is the racism, and the injustices, in America, in which Colin Kaepernick took a knee for in the beginning. And only Martellus, and Michael Bennet, and Malcolm Jenkins, and a handful still understand what the issues are.”