As a 63-year-old African-American, Mike Haynes has seen some things. He came of age during the Civil Rights era and has seen this country repeatedly take two steps forward and one step back when it comes to race relations.
Which is why when it comes to Colin Kaepernick’s social activism, Haynes is more or less on board.
“I think I probably agree with guys like Kaepernick,” the Hall of Famer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Sometimes I think things have regressed, and I actually blame television for that, movies for that, where people really believe what they see and it confuses people. So I think there’s been some regression. I think what the guys are doing now – like yesterday (when the Saints and Falcons) were on the field locking arms and doing things like that after the national anthem, I think that was really good. I love what Kaepernick has done in terms of bringing attention to the issue. The only thing that he probably wishes he would have done differently is not talked to his teammates, not talked to his coaches, not talked to the owner of the club before he made his statement.”
Numerous NFL players have joined in Kaepernick’s protest, but Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett believes that a white player needs to join the fray – and the more high-profile, the better.
“I think it has to be a prominent white player that agrees with (Kaepernick), that sees the same thing he sees,” Haynes said. “I don’t really know if it makes a difference. I think that might make that guy become prominent. If he believes it wholeheartedly the way that Colin does, then I think that does make a difference. It’s a difficult issue for people to see. I realize that because I talk to people all the time and they don’t see what I see. It’s happening. It’s been happening.”
Haynes, 63, grew up in Los Angeles. Long before he was a Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler, he was a kid who disliked and feared police.
“I hated the police when I was a kid because of the things that they did to young people,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean police are bad people. I know that. It’s just like every black guy is not a bad guy. You see one guy get arrested for doing something stupid, does that make all people crazy? I don’t think so. But that seems to be what happens. Unfortunately, people are not always seeing things the same way.”
Haynes now lives in San Diego, where reaction to Kaepernick has been mixed.
“There’s a lot of military down there, so they are very upset with his stance,” Haynes explained. “But I understand where he’s coming from, so for me, it gives me an opportunity to talk to them about his stance. I’m not sure they really have changed their mind, but I think they need to hear both sides of the story.”