Tiki Barber: Commend Kaepernick For Keeping Discussion Alive

Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney covered a wide range of topics during CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney on Monday morning, including the controversy surround Colin Kaepernick, who, in protesting the treatment of racial minorities in America, refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem last Friday.

“It’s his right to do whatever he wants to and protest in any way,” Barber said. “You also saw a lot of comparisons throw out to Muhammad Ali and (how) this was one of the most transformative moments for an athlete in the history of sport. I get it, but you got to pump your brakes a little bit on that. Muhammad Ali protested the Vietnam War, in part, because he didn’t want to go over there and get killed. He was going to be the front line.”

This incident, of course, was vastly different.

“I don’t agree with (Kaepernick) sitting and not honoring our flag, but the one thing I do agree with him on or commend him for is keeping this discussion alive,” Barber said. “In some places, because we’re such a distracted nation, it’s a second-page story. We’re not outraged until the next one happens, but he’s keeping it front of mind, and I think that’s important. The vitriol that goes around him not standing up and horning the flag, it’s secondary to his point – and it’s almost making his point for him. So I get it. But again, for me – just like for you and I’m sure most of our listeners out there – you honor the flag. You honor what this country stands for and everything that it’s gone through.”

Barber would have preferred to see Kaepernick use his platform to encourage people to vote.

“That’s how you change things in this country,” he said. “Things don’t happen overnight. We’re not picking up arms and overthrowing the government or overthrowing the police academies in this country. You do it legislatively – and the only way that that happens is if you (elect) the right people who have your views into legislative positions. That’s the only thing I would encourage Colin Kaepernick to do next because his message is lost in the vitriol.”

Tierney agrees. He feels that while Kaepernick is coming from the right place and his intentions are good, his execution is sloppy because the means of his protest obscures his cause.

“I prefer to be a problem-solver,” Tierney said. “I try to. I’d like to solve some problems, not throw gasoline on them and make the world more divisive. But I look at this world in a couple of ways here. Now there are those who are simply and inherently racist – both black and white. I don’t know how to fix that. It’s a generational thing. There’s malice in one’s heart. It’s not up to me to try to change it because I don’t know that we can. What I think is a real conflict here and where we’re spinning our wheels and getting no resolution is this: I know it’s a broad stereotype, but I think it’s fair. I think in large part, just based on the reaction of those supporting Kaepernick, African-Americans are angry and they are pointing to the social injustices that Kaepernick referenced, and we’re at an incredibly volatile state in American history. Incredibly. Three or four generations ago – even two generations ago – maybe I’m naive, but I thought race relations for our generation, I thought they were getting better. I really did. So you have the angry African-Americans and then you have a large segment of whites who are frustrated because they are being lumped into an undesirable, dangerous category, and they become defensive. . . . I don’t know how this gets solved. We’re talking in circles.”

Last week, Tierney reminded listeners, two 68-year-old white nuns were stabbed to death by a black man in Mississippi.

“Where’s the protest?” Tierney asked. “Now if that were two black nuns – two aging, physically feeble black women who devoted their life to the church or the temple or whatever you pray to or whom you pray to – and that was a white perpetrator, this world would be on fire today. We would have the same incensed, inflamed feelings, which would be justified. . . . Dwyane Wade’s cousin was pushing a baby stroller and was killed – shot in the head in a suburb of Chicago on Friday by a stray bullet. A black person pulled the trigger. If that was a white person, there would be riots. It would be the height of intensity, and it doesn’t seem equitable. Crime is crime. But while Colin Kaepernick espouses his views, which I think are very legitimate, and I understand there’s the other side of the coin that gets stepped on and ignored – I think white people, they’re tired. We want to know why.”

“I wish I had an answer for you,” Barber said sympathetically. “There isn’t one. Instead, we get mad at Colin Kaepernick for not standing up to honor the national anthem.”

Tierney’s initial reaction to Kaepernick’s protest was not positive. In fact, it was the complete opposite.

“Can I be honest with you? Initially, I felt rage,” Tierney said. “Listen, there’s so many layers to this. If I’m black and I don’t want to stand for that flag based on when that flag was born and what it was borne out of, I get it. I do get it.”

Barber’s first response, on the other hand, was not rage. It was curiosity.

“Mine was, ‘Well that’s interesting. What’s his point?’” he said. “I didn’t know what his point (was). I kind of knew what his point was going to be, but I wanted hear him tell me his point – and Colin Kaepernick is not an idiot. I don’t think he can understand football, but he’s not stupid. He gets it.”

Tierney agreed. He thought Kaepernick came off well during a nearly 20-minute press conference in which he thoughtfully, calmly and eloquently defended his protest.

“He did it the right way, but the question is, where do we go from here?” Tierney asked. “Words are hollow.”

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