Shannon Sharpe does not mince words. And he has no patience for bullshit.
So if anyone was going to speak truth to power when it came to the displays of “unity” and “solidarity” across the NFL last weekend — following President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments suggesting players protesting during the national anthem should be fired — it would be him. Sharpe did not disappoint, delivering a fiery sermon from the desk of Fox Sports’ “Undisputed,” saying he was “disappointed and unimpressed.”
For nearly eight minutes, an eternity in broadcast time, Sharpe raised the issue of the hypocrisy he saw on Sunday.
Hundreds of players kneeled during the anthem. Others stood but locked arms in a show of solidarity or unity. Former players, front office executives, and owners joined in too. A number of teams as well as the league itself released statements about free speech and unity. And while the public displays looked great on camera, Sharpe wanted to know the answer to an important question: What was everyone actually uniting against?
When San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick launched his demonstration in 2016, he knelt to bring attention to racial inequality, police violence, and injustice against black and brown people. Instead of joining him then or even joining him now, teams have co-opted Kaepernick’s message to take a stand against a wealthy white man daring to tell owners and executives what to do.
That was the position that brought them to their knees. That was the moment they said, “No more.” Not the toxic misogyny, not calling Mexicans rapists, not attacking veterans and a gold star family, not disparaging entire U.S. cities, not refusing refugees or transgender people in the armed forces, not suggesting there may be good people affiliated with Nazis and white supremacist groups. It was only when Trump came for their business, threatened the players who would harm their way of life, did the NFL dare speak up about any sort of injustice.
Said Sharpe: This was about money, not morals.
So he called them out. And his passionate, powerful, message deserves to be watched in its entirety.
It’s that good. And it’s that important.