Eric Reid, Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and many others are slamming NFL teams' '#BlackoutTuesday' tweets as hypocritical while Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio is defending the league as a racism-free 'meritocracy.'
Amid uproar over George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police, NFL teams followed the social media trend on Tuesday by posting an all-black background with the hashtag '#BlackoutTuesday' to raise awareness about systemic racism around the country.
In response, league critics accused teams of hypocrisy for the alleged blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has not played in the NFL since protesting racist police brutality by kneeling during the anthem throughout the 2016 season.
Kaepernick and his former teammate Reid, a fellow protestor, have since settled collusion grievances with the league for undisclosed amounts after accusing owners of conspiring to blackball them from the NFL in retaliation for the controversial demonstrations.
'I think you meant Blackball Tuesday,' Reid wrote Tuesday in response to the 49ers tweet.
NFL free agent Eric Reid (left), Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right), and many others are slamming NFL teams' '#BlackoutTuesday' tweets as hypocritical while Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio is defending the league as a racism-free 'meritocracy'
Kaepernick and his former teammate Reid, a fellow protestor, previously settled collusion grievances with the league for undisclosed amounts after accusing owners of conspiring to blackball them from the NFL in retaliation for the controversial demonstrations
Reid accused the 49ers of hypocrisy after the team made a '#BlackoutTuesday' post on Twitter
The Redskins' tweet elicited a response from critics, who accused the team of hypocrisy
But the 49ers weren't the only team to draw accusations of racism or hypocrisy.
The Washington Redskins posted a similar '#BlackoutTuesday' tweet, which was immediately panned by critics demanding the team change its nickname, which many claim is a racist epithet against Native Americans.
'Want to really stand for racial justice?' asked Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter. 'Change your name.'
Many similar tweets followed.
'Now do Native Americans,' joked actor George Takei.
Reid (No. 32 in back), a former Pro Bowl safety, has since played a stint with the Carolina Panthers, but has maintained his belief that the league was retaliating against him and Kaepernick (No. 7) for the controversial protests, which have been continued by some players ever since
The WWE's Simone Johnson added: 'Your team name is literally a slur why don't ya'll start there.'
The term 'redskin' has been the source of much debate in recent years, as critics have categorized it as a racist epithet while the team has claimed to have support of various Native Americans groups to continue using it.
On Tuesday Fangio was asked about the evolution of player activism over his lengthy coaching career.
After initially saying he doesn't think it has changed 'a whole lot,' the 61-year-old Pennsylvania native explained that he thinks the league does not have a problem with racism.
'I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We're a league of meritocracy. You earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don't see racism at all in the NFL. I don't see discrimination in the NFL. We live in a great atmosphere. Like I alluded to earlier, we're lucky. We all live together joined as one for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we'd all be great.'
Seahawks running back Chris Carson reacted to video of Fangio's comment on Twitter
Seattle Seahawks safety Quadre Diggs responded to the statement by asking 'Is he blind?'
The comment came as a surprise to many, given the fact that only four NFL head coaches are minorities, compared to around 70 percent of players.
Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio believes there is no racism in the NFL
'To say there's no racism and no problem, I think, really is not recognizing the situation,' retired Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy told ESPN Radio. 'As you said, the league has talked about having 70-75 percent African American players and no black [team] presidents, just a couple of black general managers. ... It is not a complete meritocracy, even though it's a great place. And I think the same thing could be said of our country.'
Several Seattle Seahawks players responded to Fangio's comment.
Running back Chris Carson called his statement 'a joke' while safety Quadre Diggs asked 'Is he blind?'
Meanwhile Seahawks coach Pete Carroll defended Kaepernick, saying 'we owe a tremendous amount' to him.
'I think that there was a moment in time that a young man captured,' Carroll told The Ringer's podcast. 'He took a stand on something, figuratively, took a knee, but he stood up for something he believed in — and what an extraordinary moment it was that he was willing to take.'
Kaepernick, 32, has remained a free agent even as he's continued to strain in hopes of making an NFL return.
Reid, a former Pro Bowl safety, has since played a stint with the Carolina Panthers, but has maintained his belief that the league was retaliating against him and Kaepernick for the controversial protests, which have been continued by varying numbers of players ever since.
Many, including President Donald Trump, slammed the peaceful demonstrations as being disrespectful to the military. Vice president Mike Pence walked out of a 49ers-Indianapolis Colts game in October of 2017 after Reid and Kaepernick's other former teammates kneeled in protest.
On Monday, in response to looting and rioting amid the demonstrations, Trump claimed to be 'an ally of all peaceful protesters' while Pence has echoed similar statements on social media.
Colin Kaepernick (right) is offering to pay the legal fees for any of the 'freedom fighters' arrested while protesting the death of George Floyd (left) in Minnesota this week
Kaepernick posted the offer on the website for the 'Know Your Rights Camp,' which is aimed at promoting equality and teaching children their rights
Through his Know Your Rights Camp foundation, Kaepernick recently offered to pay the legal fees for any of the 'freedom fighters' arrested while protesting Floyd's death in Minnesota.
'In fighting for liberation there's always retaliation,' Kaepernick wrote on Twitter. 'We must protect our Freedom Fighters. We started a legal defense initiative to give legal representation to Freedom Fighters in Minneapolis paid for by @yourrightscamp.'
Pence once walked out of an NFL game in 2017 when Kaepernick's former 49ers teammates peacefully protested racist police brutality by kneeling during the anthem
Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng were fired Tuesday after a video went viral, showing Chauvin kneeling on the 46-year-old Floyd's neck as he cried out for help, saying he couldn't breath.
Floyd, who was being arrested for alleged forgery, is ultimately seen passing out. He was later declared dead at a local hospital.
Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder after days of clashes between police and protestors in the Twin Cities. Thus far, one precinct being torched, more than 170 local business have been looted or damaged, and an unknown number of protestors have been arrested.
Various memes of Kaepernick kneeling in protest alongside a picture of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck have appeared on Twitter, contrasting the uproar over the peaceful demonstration with the perceived indifferent reaction to the violent arrest
Various memes of Kaepernick kneeling in protest alongside a picture of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck have appeared on Twitter, contrasting the uproar over the peaceful demonstrations with the perceived indifferent reaction to the violent arrest