Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant called out Colin Kaepernick for raising awareness without a clear call to action to help the black community. Bryant made the comments during the podcast “I Am Athlete” that featured Bryant as well as NFL players Brandon Marshall, Fred Taylor, Chad Johnson and Channing Crowder.
“I respect Colin Kaepernick, but there’s one thing I don’t respect,” Bryant said. “And I said when I get the opportunity to get on the stage to say it, I would say it. And I love him to death, so there ain’t no hate.”
“But brother, you had the biggest opportunity in the world to create jobs, build jobs, give jobs to people. The people that you were talking about, that you were so-called standing up for, the people who stood beside you, the 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.”
Many took to social media in criticism of Bryant, including sportswriter Jemele Hill of The Atantic.
“With all due respect Dez Bryant, this is uninformed,” Hill wrote on Twitter. “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.”
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. https://t.co/rKt6GUlHmg
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 27, 2021
Bryant also criticized Kaepernick in 2019, questioning the “action behind the words” in a Twitter post.
“Leaders create opportunities for the people following them,” Bryant wrote. “You cannot lead people without giving them proper direction. We have to be careful opening up a dialogue that resonates deeply with so many but have no preparation and/or a solution behind it. Let’s make aware the injustices but put more energy into finding the solutions.”
@Kaepernick7 … I’m not against you I’m with you.. I just want to see the change as well pic.twitter.com/6cGW6If0wE
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) November 20, 2019
Since his departure from the NFL, Kaepernick has written a children’s book on race titled “I Color Myself Different.” This followed summarily on the heels of the ex-quarterback for the 49ers’ protests that started a trend of kneeling during the National Anthem at NFL games. He has also decried the 4th of July as a commemoration not of U.S. independence but rather as a “celebration of white supremacy.”
Of his book, Kaepernick said “This story is deeply personal to me and inspired by real events in my life. I hope that it honors the courage and bravery of young people everywhere by encouraging them to live with authenticity and purpose,”
He added, “I hope that our books will inspire readers to walk through the world with confidence, strength, and truth in all they do.”
Bryant responded to his critics in a tweet on Monday.
“Y’all missed the message and I’m fine with that,” tweeted Bryant, “me speaking on Kap was about unity.. Kap leading the charge…. a ton of us athletes have donated a lot of money and [have] yet to own anything (ownership).”
Y’all missed the message and I’m fine with that…. I stand 10 toes down on my beliefs… me speaking on Kap was about unity.. kap leading the charge…. a ton of us athletes have donated a lot of money and yet to own anything (ownership)…. BTW go watch the whole entire podcast
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) September 27, 2021
No one wants to watch the entire podcast. They just want to judge you based on that clip b/c they don’t want to put in the work. They just want to be mad b/c the echo chamber told ’em to get mad.
— Rhett (@rhett0ric) September 27, 2021
He lost a lot by bringing that awareness you talked about. And you weren’t willing to do what he did because you didn’t wanna lose the same….so sorry I fail to see where you get off being so critical of him.
— Michael Figueroa (@Mikefiggs) September 27, 2021
I can’t speak for other people but I didn’t miss your message. I just don’t agree with it #gocowboys
— Black Socrates (@Mike_Lowery_) September 27, 2021
Don’t worry @DezBryant your just this week’s excuse … Like #Saitama you are trying help people understand ownership is power, education is power… Blaming is a loss ~~🐉🐉💯💯🙏🙏 #88
— 🐉OFFICIAL🐉CRYPTO🐉DRAGON 🐉OF🐉SPORTS🐉 (@CRYPTOSDRAGON9) September 27, 2021
In 2017, Bryant received disapproval among fans and peers when he suggested that many in the black community were held back not by historic racism but by a lack of individual accountability.
The star wide receiver played for eight years with the Dallas Cowboys before playing in six games for the Baltimore Ravens in 2020. He is currently a free agent.
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