Reverend Al Sharpton called for the NFL to bring back quarterback Colin Kaepernick during his eulogy at George Floyd's funeral in Houston.
"The head of the NFL said, 'Yeah, maybe we was wrong. Football players, maybe they did have the right to peacefully protest,'" said Sharpton, who also spoke at Floyd's memorial service in Minneapolis last week. "Well, don't apologize. Give Colin Kaepernick a job back.
"Don't come with some empty apology. Take a man's livelihood. Strip a man down of his talents. And four years later, when the whole world is marching, all of a sudden you go and do a FaceTime, talk about you sorry. Minimizing the value of our lives. You sorry? Then repay the damage you did to the career you stood down, 'cause when Colin took a knee, he took it for the families in this building. And we don't want an apology. We want him repaired."
Sharpton's criticism comes after commissioner Roger Goodell responded to a video over the weekend released by NFL players calling on the league to issue a revised statement on the issue of systemic racism and police brutality. Goodell said the NFL "[condemns] racism and the systematic oppression of Black People" and admitted the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier." However, Goodell did not mention Kaepernick in the video.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. His peaceful protests ignited an intense national debate that resurfaced following the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died on May 25 in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed placing his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes outside a convenience store, despite Floyd saying "I can't breathe" numerous times. Chauvin was arrested and faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers present face charges of aiding and abetting murder.
Floyd's death has led to a wave of protests across the U.S. calling for police reform and equality, sparking a national discussion on racism. While many athletes have spoken out against the death of Floyd, some have also asked the NFL to bring back Kaepernick, including his former 49ers teammate Carlos Hyde.