Former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said he respects what Colin Kaepernick did in raising awareness of racial inequality. But he believes the former 49ers quarterback dropped the ball in creating actual change. Bryant said Kaepernick’s protest lacked a “call to action,” which stalled the movement.
Speaking on the I AM ATHLETE podcast, Bryant said Kaepernick’s kneeling protest started an ongoing conversation over athletes’ roles in addressing social issues but lacked any follow-through.
“I respect Colin Kaepernick. But there is one thing that I don’t respect, and I said when I get the opportunity and to get on the stage and say it, I would say it. And I love him to death. So there ain’t no hate or nothing like that. But brother, you had the biggest opportunity in the world to create jobs, to build jobs, to give jobs to people. The people you was talking about. The people that you were so-called ‘standing up for.’ People who stood beside you, people who lost their jobs because of you. Where you at? I ain’t heard from you. He brought the awareness, and that’s why I respect him.”Dez Bryant
Former NFL wide receiver and co-host of the show Brandon Marshall summed up Bryant’s take by asking “where was the call to action?”
“There wasn’t one,” Bryant replied. “There was no call to action.”
It’s a point Bryant has made before. In 2019, three-time Pro Bowler tweeted that he wasn’t against Kaepernick. But he said kneeling during the anthem was only theater if Kaepernick didn’t take the next steps in furthering the discussion.
“Leaders create opportunities for the people following them,” he wrote. “You cannot lead people without giving them proper direction.”
Bryant did not kneel during the national anthem like many other athletes.
Colin Kaepernick Started Media Company to Showcase Black Voices
“The partnership will focus on telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice and the quest for equity, and will provide a new platform to showcase the work of Black and Brown directors and producers,” a press release announcing the deal said.
Jemele Hill, who is working with Kaepernick on the project, called Bryant’s comments “uninformed.”
“With all due respect @DezBryant, this is uninformed. Colin Kaepernick has created a publishing company, a SPAC that’s raising $300M for social justice initiatives, a production company, etc. On top of founding the Know Your Rights Camp. I don’t get the point of dragging his name,” she tweeted Tuesday.
Netflix will release a six-part series on the life of Colin Kaepernick called Colin Black & White on Oct. 29.