“Most people, myself included, feel like Kap is a hero for what he did. He woke up the next generation of players to use their voice and their platform to protest police brutality and systemic oppression.” – Thomas on Colin Kaepernick’s impact
“I don’t think any player will really believe the sentiments of the NFL if Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job in the league this season.” – Thomas
“I know for a fact that of all the backup quarterbacks on a roster right now, he’d be one of the best, if not the best. And probably better than some of the second-tier starters.” – Thomas on Kaepernick
Tonight at 8 P.M. ET, Anthony Lynn, Stephen Curry & Charles Barkley Among Celebrity Athletes In Roundtable Special, “Race And Sports In America: Conversations,” Simulcasting on GOLF Channel, NBCSN, NBC Sports Regional Networks And Olympic Channel: Home Of Team USA
STAMFORD, Conn. – July 13, 2020 – In the latest edition of Peter King’s Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com, Houston Texans safety Michael Thomas serves as a guest writer and discusses why Colin Kaepernick should be back in the NFL and the next steps needed in the fight against social injustice.
Across NBC Sports this week, ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news and the Rotoworld Football Podcast prepares for the 2020 season.
Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, celebrity athletes – including Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry and Basketball Hall-of-Famer and TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley – will be featured on Race and Sports in America: Conversations, a wide-ranging roundtable discussion special, hosted by NBC Sports’ Damon Hack, that will simulcast on GOLF Channel, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), NBC Sports Regional Networks and the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
ON COLIN KAEPERNICK
Michael Thomas: “In the last four years, Kap’s been blackballed from the NFL and has become an international hero for the oppressed.”
Thomas on playing against Kaepernick in 2016: “Kap started protesting during the National Anthem that preseason, to draw attention to systemic racism and police brutality…Kenny Stills, a wide receiver on our team, and I joined in solidarity in Miami so during the anthem before that game, while I was kneeling, I could look across the field and see Kap doing the same.”
Thomas on why he kneeled in the 2016 season: “That season was life-changing for me. Following the back-to-back unjust murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in the summer of 2016, I knew I had to do something. I was done with t-shirts and hashtags. I was ready to fight, because this was bigger than me…To be honest, I had no idea what exactly that something was going to be. Until I saw Colin Kaepernick kneel during the National Anthem. When I heard why he was protesting, that he was fighting against systemic oppression and police brutality, it was an incredible moment of clarity.”
Thomas on Kaepernick and the NFL’s stance on racial injustice: “I don’t think any player will really believe the sentiments of the NFL if Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job in the league this season.”
Thomas on Kaepernick as a quarterback: “I know for a fact that of all the backup quarterbacks on a roster right now, he’d be one of the best, if not the best. And probably better than some of the second-tier starters.”
Thomas on Kaepernick competing in today’s NFL: “He’s the type of quarterback that today’s NFL is built for. It’s built for the mobile quarterback, it’s built for the quarterback who can run but also throw. He’s that dual-threat option…Set aside for a second what the league would gain in terms of credibility by bringing him back. From a pure football standpoint, his style fits the league perfectly.”
Thomas: “In conversations I’ve had with other players, even the player who didn’t take a knee, everyone is overwhelmingly in agreement that (Kaepernick and Eric Reid) need to be playing in the league. If there’s a group that’s opposed to that, I certainly haven’t spoken with them. Most people, myself included, feel like Kap is a hero for what he did. He woke up the next generation of players to use their voice and their platform to protest police brutality and systemic oppression.”
ON NFL PLAYERS
Thomas on current NFL players: “Four years removed from 2016, there has been real change, and it’s come from the players. Players are realizing their power, and they know the impact it has when they speak out against social injustices and racism. The young stars of today and tomorrow are doing it, and it’s so necessary because everything starts from the top.”
Thomas on top players speaking out: “Now with all the top players speaking out, they’ve applied pressure to the league and left them no choice but to join the fight. They’re the new faces of the league. If they’re speaking out on systemic oppression and racism in this country, then that opens the door for every other player.”
Thomas on Patrick Mahomes and his recent contract extension: “To have somebody of that caliber stepping up to say something for the Black community is a tremendous thing. The NFL is nearly 70 percent black. He knew they had to pay him. The NFL knew they had to pay him. And to hear him and Lamar (Jackson) and Deshaun (Watson) speak on this topic is powerful and monumental.”
Thomas on his experience as a free agent after kneeling: “My first time hitting free agency came ahead of the 2018 season and I remember communicating with Eric Reid every morning, praying. Teams wouldn’t even respond to us. It was a tough time. I’ll say this: I was blessed to ultimately be able to sign with the Giants…There was another team, and I won’t name names, that wanted to sign me and thought they could capitalize on my off-field situation. They thought I’d be seen as undesirable and that they’d get great value for me.”
Thomas on Kaepernick’s influence on young players: “I love the fact that this next generation is so woke. I have no doubt that Colin’s initial stance helped plant the seeds and inspire those young stars to realize what happens when you use your platform to fight for causes in your own neighborhood. And that is so powerful.”
ON NEXT STEPS
Thomas on next steps in the fight for social justice: “The protests are great, the activism is important, but how do we really fight to end systemic oppression? To me, that next step is for everyone committed to this fight – players, league partners, protestors, politicians – to try to attack systemic racism at its core and demand that our government, at both the congressional level and in the Senate, pass H.R. 40, the bill to study and develop proposals for reparations for African-Americans.”
Thomas on the need for reparations: “We keep dancing around the conversation. We keep getting incremental little wins, symbolic wins. That’s not enough. The average white family in America has 10 times the wealth of the average Black family. That’s why it’s not enough to take little pieces of the pie. We have to push for change at the core.”
Thomas: “What we really need is for people to accept that this is a system that limits what Black people in America can achieve and accumulate. For everyone asking what’s next, let me say it unequivocally: We need to pass H.R. 40 and begin a serious conversation about the framework for reparations for Black people in the United States. We can’t let this energy, this moment and this momentum go to waste.”
MORE NFL NOTES
Thomas on Tom Brady: “I think it’s going to be really strange to see Tom Brady play for Tampa Bay this year. Playing for Miami, we came up against the Patriots regularly and in his prime, I think Tom Brady is arguably the best of all time.”
Thomas on Aaron Rodgers: “I think most DBs would tell you that he’s one of the absolute best and most dangerous quarterbacks we’ll face, ever.”
Thomas on Deshaun Watson: “I’m coming home to play in Houston this season, and I think my quarterback, Deshaun Watson, will be this year’s league MVP. You can call me a homer because he’s my quarterback and my hometown quarterback. But I believe he has the skill set and the weapons around him to play at that level.”
Thomas on Saquon Barkley: “I think Saquon Barkley is in for a record-breaking season in his third year…When you see him on the field, it just feels different. Everybody who’s ever seen him, played with him or played against him knows this kid is a generational talent.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news and updates.
- Rotoworld Football Podcast: Experts Josh Norris, John Daigle, Hayden Winks, and Patrick Daugherty continue to prepare for the 2020 season.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.