Nigeria born American NFL ace Osi Umenyiora believes it is time to get more practical in solving social problems.
The Two-time Super Bowl winner says the NFL need to move on from ‘symbolic gestures’ and address social issues with ‘real resources and real funds’.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last month have been two high-profile cases of police brutality in America.
But it has long been an issue in America – well before Colin Kaepernick took the knee before a San Francisco 49ers pre-season game in 2016.
The ostracised former quarterback has been without a team since the end of that season, and while many players will follow his lead this season, Umenyiora wants players to find other ways to enact social change.
‘I think that it is time for more substantive action to be taken as opposed to just taking the knee. Everybody is doing that, it’s becoming mainstream,’ Umenyiora said.
‘It’s the popular thing to do. To say black lives matter, to take a knee, post a black square. But what are you doing outside of that?’
‘For me I feel like it’s time for players to be getting involved and actually doing things other than protesting. At this point everybody knows what you are talking about, so what are you protesting right now?
‘We need to find a way to get the heart of a lot of these issues: the poverty, the lack of education, a lot of these different things that can really make a difference in people’s lives and the way they interact with each other
‘I think it’s time for us to get doing that by committing real resources and real funds to that as opposed to just making symbolic gestures.’
After six months of unexpected and profound change, the two-time Super Bowl winner is not predicting a revolution in the NFL on the field.
‘It’s going to be the same old teams. You’re going to see a lot of the veteran teams in there, the teams that have a well-established head coach, the well-established franchises,’ he says.
Teams have been forced to adapt to Covid protocols. They have not had a pre-season to scout talent and many will play without fans.