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“In 2016, my rookie year, as many of you can probably guess, I was scared to kneel,” Lucas said, per Cam Ellis of NBC Sports. “I didn’t want to lose my position on the team. I didn’t want to be looked at differently, just by the front office or the coaches just because I didn’t have a name. I didn’t really have a spot on the team. I didn’t want to lose anything. I just got there.
“But I think a lot of people are seeing now that it’s much bigger than the flag and disrespecting the flag. We’re not disrespecting the flag, nor the military. I think people are really starting to understand that now.”
Colin Kaepernick began peacefully protesting during the national anthem in 2016, creating a national controversy. Some praised him for standing against racial discrimination, while others criticized his form of protest.
President Donald Trump called players who protest during the anthem “son[s] of bitch[es]” and called on them to be fired, leading to widespread protests in September 2017. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in October 2017 that those protesting during the anthem would not play for his team. The NFL also received brushback from players in 2018 when the league attempted to prevent players from kneeling during the anthem.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the league was wrong for its handling of peaceful protests in a video that posted Friday.
“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People,” Goodell said. “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.”
Goodell’s video came after several superstar players, including Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, called on the league to apologize for its handling of past protests and condemn systemic racism. Kaepernick was not mentioned by name.