"Even when he kept saying it had nothing to do with the flag or military, I didn’t listen," Kelly Stafford said of Colin Kaepernick, who sparked the #TakeAKnee movement in 2016

By Eric Todisco
August 17, 2020 10:45 AM
Kelly Stafford, Colin Kaepernick
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock; Aaron J. Thornton/Getty

Kelly Stafford, wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, has issued a public apology for criticizing Colin Kaepernick in 2017 for his protests against racial injustice.

On Saturday, Kelly, 42, said in a lengthy statement on Instagram that in the past months, she has come to understand and support the #TakeAKnee movement, which was sparked by Kaepernick, 32, in 2016 when he refused to stand during the national anthem before NFL games in protest of police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.

Alongside the post, the mother of four also shared a screenshot of an NFL announcement that she and Matthew, 32, had donated $350,000 to endow a social justice program in the athletic department of their Georgia alma mater.

"This is something that Matthew and I have been thinking and talking about for several months now," she began her caption.

"When Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, I had strong feelings about it," Kelly explained. "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."

However, Kelly said that over the past months she has "opened my ears, mind, and heart and it has opened my eyes to see how wrong I was and for that I am sorry."

She continued, "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," Kelly said. "We are proud to be a part of this program and we will keep fighting to help end this social injustice. Black Lives Matter."

Matthew and Kelly Stafford
Aaron J. Thornton/Getty

Kelly, who underwent a 12-hour operation to remove a brain tumor last year — criticized Kaepernick back in an August 2017 Instagram post and called on protesting players to stand during the anthem.

But now, Kelly is among many to reverse their opinions on Kaepernick's protest in the wake of George Floyd's death in May, which sparked protests across the country.

Colin Kaepernick
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty

In June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell formally apologized for ignoring players who kneeled, though he did not mention Kaepernick by name.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people," he said in an Instagram video. "[We] admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

Later that month, Goodell publicly endorsed the idea of re-signing Kaepernick, who hasn't played on an NFL team in over three years.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.