Seahawks running back Carlos Hyde believes the NFL can show its commitment to improving issues with racial inequality if a team signs Colin Kaepernick.
Hyde and Kaepernick played together on the 49ers in 2016 when the quarterback began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality. When asked what the NFL can do to build upon its commitment, Hyde called for his former teammate to be brought back to the league.
"I think the NFL can start by signing Kap back," Hyde told reporters in a conference call Monday, per USA Today. "I think if they sign Kap back, that'll show that they're really trying to move in a different direction. Because Kap was making a statement four years ago about what's going on in today's world and the NFL didn't bother to listen to him then, so I think they should start by doing that. After that, I'm not really sure what the NFL can do."
Over the weekend, commissioner Roger Goodell responded to a video released by players calling on the league to issue a revised statement on the issue of systemic racism and police brutality. Goodell admitted that the league "[condemns] racism and the systematic oppression of Black People" and was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier." However, the commissioner did not mention Kaepernick, who has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season.
Hyde, who recently signed a one-year deal with Seattle, said he supported Kaepernick's "peaceful protest" in 2016 but didn't realize the magnitude of the quarterback's actions because his focus remained on football.
"I was all for it," Hyde said, per ESPN. "I understand the message he was putting out. I understood because I came from Cincinnati, Ohio. Lincoln Heights in Cincinnati, it's not the best area, and I would see that–police brutality, pretty much everybody in the neighborhood is struggling, you see violence, drugs, all that. There's just no opportunity there."
At age 14, Hyde went to live with his grandmother in Naples, Fla., and "pretty much start my life over."
When asked what the NFL can do to create change, Hyde said he isn't sure but emphasized again that the league should bring back Kaepernick.
"I can't really give you a good answer on what the NFL needs to do," he said. "The racism in this world is deep-rooted. I don't think the NFL is going to change anything, but personally I really don't know. I just know they can sign Kap."