For years now, NFL players have been protesting against racism and trying to fit systemic oppression across the country. Sometimes, it’s been the NFL owners themselves who have hurt the players the most, with the best example being Colin Kaepernick and his blackballing from the league. During the height of players kneeling during the National Anthem, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair had harsh words for the players as reports alleged he said: “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.”
In an interview with GQ, Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins spoke about those “inmate” comments and how they made him feel at the time. As you can imagine, Hopkins was hurt by it all and at the time, just wanted to go home.
“I’ll take my ass home. I went home. I ain’t going to practice today. Hell no. I was about to not play in the game,” Hopkins said. “I was about to sit out the game. But I definitely wasn’t going to practice. A couple of my teammates about to follow me.”
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From there, Hopkins gave a heartfelt explanation for his feelings behind the comments and even defended McNair who has since past on.
“It’s hard for people to understand what that means, when your family was slaves… Not even too long ago, people couldn’t even drink out of the same water faucet. Not even 100 years ago. People don’t understand. I’m from South Carolina. I’m from a real cultured state, where there’s still racism daily. Still, places are segregated. I really didn’t want to play in that game, dog. I was like, ‘Shit, this is bigger than a game, man.’ I’ve got to stand for something [for my children]… It feels like I’m a slave again. Getting ran over. Listen to the master, go to work. But I took into consideration that he was older—RIP, his soul. He was a good man, but some people they don’t really… When you grow up certain places, you talk a certain way.”
Based on Hopkins’ comments, it’s clear that there is still a lot to be done before race relations get better in not just the country but the NFL as well.