In the midst of many protests sweeping the nation over the death of George Floyd, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams posted a story about how he was the subject of racism while growing up in Oregon. The usually quiet Williams isn’t one to make headlines, but he thinks it’s important to try and make a difference. In an interview with The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, the wide receiver gave his thoughts on the National Anthem protests that Colin Kaepernick popularized back in 2016:
I wasn’t opposed to kneeling. I just never got myself knowledgeable enough. I allowed the negative stuff surrounding it to not let me educate myself enough on ways to help change. The backlash that Colin was getting was a turnoff for a lot of younger players. I was nervous, I was 24, an undrafted guy that wasn’t secure in my position. And that’s no excuse. Looking back, I wish I would have made that jump.
But now we are at a point where we don’t care about what the consequences of making a stand may be. We need change, and we all need to get out of our comfort zone to make that happen. If you disagree with me taking a stand against racism, I couldn’t care less about your opinion. If I have to make you uncomfortable to force change, then that’s what I will do.
The issue over the protest was incredibly controversial when it was first happening, but many more people are getting behind. In fact, Raiders owner Mark Davis and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have changed their tunes quite a bit.
Mike Mayock & Jon Gruden Have Been Supportive
Neither head coach Jon Gruden nor general manager Mike Mayock were in the NFL during Kaepernick’s initial protest so it’s hard to know exactly where they might stand on it. Regardless, Williams says that both the coach and general manager have been very supportive about listening to the past experiences of their players.
“Coach Gruden has been big about it,” Williams said. “He wants to hear where people stand, what they have been through and their advice, the ways they want to help change things as a team. How we can do it together in Vegas.
“Coach Gruden [and] Mayock have been big supporters and (are) doing everything they can to hear our experiences. And they want to facilitate us being able to help the situation.”
The Raiders appear to be a united team and if a protest is to happen, it’s very possible they do it together.
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Williams Talks Kaepernick
The person whose NFL career was hurt the worst by the Kaepernick protest was the man himself. He hasn’t played a game since the 2016 season. Williams thinks that he’s been maligned by many over a misunderstanding of his stance.
“That’s going to be the biggest thing, the intent behind it,” Williams said. “He was bringing light to police injustice and the media played a big part in changing the narrative of what he was trying to do. Ultimately, that turned a lot of people off to it.”
Now that the narrative appears to be changing, there’s momentum growing over the idea that Kaepernick will find a team.