'Shameful Moral Weakness': Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says NFL Move to Deny Players the Right to Kneel Is a 'Disgrace to the Constitution'

National Basketball Association legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Tuesday published an open letter to the National Football League, writing that to deny players the right to protest “is a disgrace to the Constitution, the opposite of patriotism and shameful moral weakness.”

Recounting the NFL’s evolution on kneeling players, Abdul-Jabbar noted that in May the league “implemented a childish policy about how grown men must respond to the national anthem: a player can stay in the locker room during the anthem, but if he takes the field and then protests, the team and the player can be fined.”

“Oh, Dear Owners,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “You stood at the precipice of history tasked with deciding whether to choose the principles of the US Constitution over profits of commerce, patriotism over pandering, morality over mob mentality, promoting social justice over pushing beers. Sadly, you blinked. Courage, it seems, is expected only of players.”

Pointing out that “not much has changed regarding what [Colin] Kaepernick” originally took a knee for, Abdul-Jabbar explained that “although racial minorities are only 37.4% of the population, they account for 62.7% of unarmed people killed by police.”

“Given all that and much, much more, taking a knee during the national anthem is the epitome of restraint,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

Abdul-Jabbar wondered why NFL owners aren’t more outraged by police brutality against racial minorities.

“If it were white people suffering those same statistics, you wouldn’t even play the national anthem,” he wrote. “Then again, you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become owners in the first place.”

“To deny players the right to express their frustration in a peaceful manner is a disgrace to the Constitution, the opposite of patriotism,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “By compromising ethics to economy, you show moral weakness.”

“Denying your players their freedom to express their concerns sends a clear message that you don’t value your black players’ values,” he added. “You’re telling them that they must abide by your white perception of social justice even though you have no experience with the kind of institutional injustice that robs their community of lives, hope and a future.”

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