Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson said Wednesday he thinks that Colin Kaepernick should feel "very vindicated'' about kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 and that whether players kneel or don't kneel before games in the 2020 season and beyond will be the context of a bigger national discussion.
That is, Jackson said, players might not kneel if they believe they are listened to when they speak about use of force by police and a variety of other social issues "in our communities.''
"But I think, I think what Colin did, as far as kneeling and everything -- the point of the protest was to bring attention to the issue,'' Jackson said. "Even though that obviously got skewed because of a multitude of factors, that was the reason, that was the motivation behind the protest.
"Now that that light has shined and that's kind of really exposed ... the way I'm thinking of it, the best methodology moving forward is to do everything we can with our platform to effect that positive change. I don't know if [kneeling] will have the most net positive outcome because of the way it gets so, such a hyperpartisan issue, really because they don't want to talk about the real issue. Nevertheless, I think if we just use our platforms like we are now to continue to expose and advocate for the change we want to see in society, that might be the best method going forward. But we'll see.''
Jackson said he has participated in Black Lives Matter protests in the Los Angeles area in recent days and plans to participate in another one later this week. He added that he would support any player's participation in a peaceful protest, including kneeling before an NFL game.
"That is your First Amendment right,'' Jackson said, adding that Kaepernick's message about police brutality and social issues got "clouded'' because it was framed as a protest of the flag or the nation's military. Jackson said that nationally, the marches for change have put a spotlight on the issues Kaepernick was trying to draw attention to, and they have created a different kind of discussion locally and nationally.
"His message, 100 percent, got clouded, and it really got clouded for insidious reasons, right?'' Jackson said. "The reason it got clouded is they wanted to make it about something that it wasn't. They didn't want to talk about the real issue he was bringing up, which now is at the forefront of our society -- everyone is seeing exactly what is happening.
"It's like a perfect storm. ... I think people are finally starting to see, he was right ... what he was talking about then. ... He should feel very vindicated. ... I'm glad that now it's changed, the narrative has changed and the majority of people are seeing exactly what he was talking about, and what a lot of people have been talking about, screaming about, for a long time.''
The third-year running back said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco have been supportive of players participating in protests, and players, as well as Lynn, have shared their experiences with one another during some of the team's video conference calls.
Jackson said that some of those discussions have been "eye-opening experiences'' for some with the team.