Kelly Stafford, wife of Lions QB, apologizes for not listening to Colin Kaepernick's protests

It’s well-known that Colin Kaepernick’s protests against racial injustice in 2016 and 2017 drew a sizable amount of detractors, even in NFL circles. Now, one of those detractors is saying she was wrong.

Kelly Stafford, wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, posted a lengthy statement through Instagram on Saturday discussing her initial reaction to Kaepernick’s protests and how she was persuaded into thinking the act was disrespectful to the military. She apologized for her reaction, and pledged to take part in the fight for social justice.

The post itself contained a screen shot of an NFL announcement that Stafford and her husband had donated $350,000 to endow a social justice program in the athletic department of their Georgia alma mater.

The full caption:

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This is something that Matthew and I have been thinking and talking about for several months now.

When Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, I had strong feelings about it. Even when he kept saying it had nothing to do with the flag or military, I didn’t listen. I kept not listening to him or anyone else and let the political rhetoric persuade me that him kneeling was disrespectful to our military.

Over the past several months, I have opened my ears, mind, and heart and it has opened my eyes to see how wrong I was and for that I am sorry.

This systematic racism is not going away unless we ALL work on it by working on ourselves and those around us. It’s time for everyone to do their part to help end this system.

Matthew and I thought this was a good place to start. We are proud to be a part of this program and we will keep fighting to help end this social injustice. Black Lives Matter.

Those “strong feelings” mentioned by Stafford can be found in a 2017 Instagram post in which she asked protesting players to stand for the anthem in the name of unity against, among other things, police brutality.

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2017, file photo, Kelly Stafford, wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, holds the couple's twins Sawyer, left, and Chandler during pre-game of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, in Detroit. Kelly Stafford plans to have surgery to remove a brain tumor. Stafford shared the details Wednesday, April 3, 2019, on her Instagram account. She says an MRI showed the tumor on cranial nerves after she had vertigo spells within the last year. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski, File)
Kelly Stafford has changed her mind on protests against racial injustice. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski, File)

Winds of social justice have shifted for NFL

Stafford, who has made it through major brain surgery and the birth of her fourth child in the last 16 months, is the latest name in sports to reverse their position on Kaepernick’s protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests.


Similar to Stafford, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell signaled a notable change when he admitted the league was wrong for not listening to such protests. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also found himself apologizing after a massive backlash for espousing the viewpoint Stafford describes, that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful despite the act having its roots in a suggestion from a Green Beret.

Scores of athletes have since made donations in support of social justice, and kneeling protests will likely be back in full force when the season begins.

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