If Michael Strahan was still playing football, he believes that he would join in the take a knee protests.
The former NFL star, 46, talked about the movement on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week. When DeGeneres asked if he would kneel, Strahan replied, “I think I would have. I would have had a conversation with my father… and based on that conversation, and conversations I’ve had with him, I’m pretty sure I would have.”
Strahan and DeGeneres’ conversation was prompted by Nike’s new ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick made headlines in August 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality, ultimately sparking a nationwide debate.
The Good Morning America host explained to DeGeneres the personal reason that his father’s views influence his thoughts on the movement.
“My father is in the military. Retired major, jumping out of airplanes, doing all this stuff,” Strahan said. “And I know why [Kaepernick] knelt was not in any disrespect to the military or anybody in the armed services… When my father, who’s 81, can look at me and tell me that he’s not offended by it because he understands, then how could I, who didn’t do that service, be offended?”
Strahan praised Kaepernick’s leadership. He continued, “One of the things you can do in this country is you can protest, and he’s protesting injustices that he sees happening. And I take my hat off to him because he really did sacrifice and put so much on the line for other people that he had no idea who they were. He’s never met them, does not know them, and he put his whole life and career on the line.”
Strahan has opened up on the topic before. In October 2017, during another appearance on Ellen, Strahan said, “I think the crazy thing is, the reason for the protest has been completely lost in all of this.”
“It’s kind of like, ‘Look over here and we’re gonna make it really what it isn’t.’ It’s about racial inequality, it’s not about the flag, it’s not about disrespecting soldiers,” Strahan continued. “I just wish that people would see the real reason behind it.”
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Strahan did offer a critique on his recent trip to Ellen. “I also would have been proactive in getting it more organized,” he said. “Because I do believe that there needs to be more organization between the players and the ownership… They need to get that together in order to get the message out there in the right way and not letting the message become hijacked and turned into something that it was never intended to be.”
In 2016, Kaepernick explained his protest. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”