A former football star has said in a new interview that the National Football League gave players “hush money” to stand during the national anthem.
Hall-of-Famer Herschel Walker told Fox News that the money the league, known as the NFL, offered to give to social justice organizations favored by players was meant to end the protests.
The NFL offered $100 million to the organizations, in an effort to stop players from kneeling during the national anthem, ESPN reported.
Walker, the Philadelphia Eagles legend, called the offer “hush money.”
“The league gave the players a large sum of money toward their cause. That’s hush money,” he said.
Walker then tore into Colin Kaepernick, who started the protests in the 2016 season, saying Kaepernick wouldn’t have started the protests if he hadn’t been demoted to backup quarterback.
He also said the protests were disrespectful to the military.
“Yet you have guys who want to kneel, want to talk about their First Amendment rights. Well, your First Amendment right should be, ‘I want to stand for our military,” he said.
Kaepernick said after the protests started that he kneeled to try to effect change.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media at the time.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Since that season, Kaepernick has not played again in the NFL, a sequence of events that some attribute to him being the leader of the protests.