While nearly every NFL game this weekend featured some sort of reaction to Donald Trump’s racist insistence that players protesting police brutality and inequality should be made to stand for the national anthem or be fired, it was a quiet moment off-field that perhaps best encapsulated the spirit behind the growing movement started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
With an “I’m With Kap” shirt hanging behind him, Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas broke into tears on Sunday, as he discussed his reaction to Trump’s incendiary comments—and his motivation for protesting.
It just amazes me with everything else going on in this world–especially involving the U.S.—that’s what you’re concerned about, my man? You’re the leader of the free world, and this is what you’re talking about?
As a man, a father, as an African-American man, as someone in the NFL, as one of those son of bitches, you know like, yeah I took it personally. But at the same time, like I said in my twitter post, it’s bigger than even that. It’s bigger than me.
I’ve got a daughter, and she’s going to have to live in this world. And I gotta do what I got to do to make sure she can look at her dad and be like ‘Ey, you did something to try and make a change.’
Thomas had spent much of the weekend tweeting and retweeting criticism of the president’s Thursday comments, in which he’d called Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” for protesting against police brutality throughout the 2016 NFL season.
Despite his emotional response on Sunday, Thomas did not kneel before his game against the New York Jets. Having joined with Kaepernick in kneeling last season, this time Thomas stood alongside the majority of his teammates and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, linking arms in what President Trump had deemed a “good” form of protest.
“Some said they didn’t want to take a knee but wanted to support,” Thomas explained to the Miami Herald. “For me, it was big to have everybody who didn’t support us last year or who might have been against us last year to be with us now. That includes the coaching staff and ownership.”