Houston WR Kenny Stills: NFL not listening to Colin Kaepernick cost progress, lives

HOUSTON -- Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills said he thinks if the NFL had listened to Colin Kaepernick in 2016, lives "could have been saved."

Stills was responding to a video posted Sunday in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he wished "we had listened sooner" to the issues Kaepernick was trying to bring attention to when he knelt for the national anthem.

"He can say whatever he wants to say now, but in a sense, if we would have taken a more stern stance and he would have listened to us in the beginning of this, there would have been so many lives that could have been saved," Stills said. "There's a lot of progress that we could have made within our law enforcement, within our police, so it's a nice gesture, I guess, to say he wishes he would have done something different, but look at the NFL.

"We're supposed to be the leaders in our country, and I feel like we figure out a way always to be ... We're reactive instead of proactive when it comes to a lot of the issues in our country and within the league as well. I hope that we can do a better job moving forward of listening to our players, understanding our issues and then doing something about it."

In June, Goodell released a video in which he apologized on behalf of the NFL for not doing a better job of listening to players' concerns about racial inequality. As part of this week's interview on former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho's video series, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man," the commissioner said the disconnect between owners and players can be helped if owners go and listen to the players, as he noted some have.

"Make them go and sit and listen," he said. "Don't listen to me in a league meeting. Go and talk to your players, have that conversation."

Since Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 season, Stills has been vocal in his support of the fight against police brutality and racial injustice. Stills also has taken a knee during the national anthem.

He was one of 87 protesters who was charged with a felony in July after they gathered at Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's Louisville home to demand justice for the death of Breonna Taylor. The felony charges were later dropped. While conducting a video interview on Monday, he wore a shirt that read, "BREONNA TAYLOR'S KILLERS ARE STILL POLICE OFFICERS."

Stills, who was speaking to the media for the first time since his arrest, said that he and the other protesters were in handcuffs and in the system for 17 hours and that he thinks the police were "trying to send a message to us" as well as "keep us in jail longer."

Stills said he considered opting out of the 2020 season because of what is "going on in our country right now."

"I feel like sports really are a distraction," Stills said. "I feel like there are other things that are more important than playing football or playing sports at the moment. So a lot of things went into the decision to opt out or play.

"I felt like, after speaking with people that I was close to, and some of my teammates, that I can be more of a benefit to this team and this movement on the inside, trying to be a leader. I'm working with my teammates, working with the staff here, working with the league, and knowing who our audience is, trying to have as big of an impact and influence on them as I can."