Kelly Stafford: I was wrong to criticize Colin Kaepernick for kneeling for national anthem
Three years after she criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said she was wrong.
"When (Colin) Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, I had strong feelings about it," Kelly Stafford wrote in an Instagram post Saturday. "Even when he kept saying it had nothing to do with the flag or military, I didn’t listen. I kept not listening to him or anyone else and let the political rhetoric persuade me that him kneeling was disrespectful to our military.
"Over the past several months, I have opened my ears, mind, and heart and it has opened my eyes to see how wrong I was and for that I am sorry."
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The Staffords donated $350,000 to their alma mater, the University of Georgia, this week to help fund a social justice program for the school's athletes.
Matthew Stafford played three seasons for the Bulldogs in 2006-08, and Kelly Stafford was a cheerleader at the school.
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Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, last played in the NFL in the 2016 season, when he regularly took a knee during the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
Dozens of NFL players joined Kaepernick's demonstrations during the 2016-17 seasons, including eight Lions who took a knee during a Sept. 24, 2017, game against the Atlanta Falcons to protest incendiary comments made by President Donald Trump
About a month earlier, Kelly Stafford voiced her thoughts on the anthem, what it meant to her and what she thought players should do when it plays before NFL games on social media.
"I've been hesitant to talk about this, as I know I will get backlash from it," Stafford wrote in 2017, "but I believe we can stand and show our unity against everything that doesn't represent what this flag stands for. Let's stand united against terrorists, against racism, against white supremacists, against killing of cops, against police brutality, against sex slave trafficking.. against anything that is not the ideal for this country.
"Let's unite in the fact that God made us all unique and different and that is something we should cherish. You can disagree with me and that is totally ok.. let's use this forum to discuss (not yell at each other) and listen to one another. "
Georgia said Friday it will use gifts from the Staffords and Georgia football coach Kirby Smart to "implement strategic initiatives in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice" for athletes in all sports.
Matthew Stafford also took part in a virtual town hall for voter education with Lions teammates Trey Flowers and Duron Harmon this summer.
"This systemic racism is not going away unless we ALL work on it by working on ourselves and those around us," Kelly Stafford wrote Saturday. "It's time for everyone to do their part to help end this system."
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.