Cliff Avril: NFL Players Will Protest As Long As Message Is Ignored

As long as people ignore the message and deny that police brutality exists, players will continue to protest, Cliff Avril says

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
October 30, 2018 - 10:00 am

USA Today Images

Nearly two years after Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, player protests remain a hot-button topic in and beyond the NFL.

It will continue to be a hot-button topic as long as people refuse to listen to the players’ message, Cliff Avril says.

“For me, I think people are changing the narrative,” the NFL defensive end told Zach Gelb, who was filling in as host of After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “People are looking at the protest and not necessarily what the guys are saying. Taking a knee is what it’s all about, but we’re not talking about why they’re taking a knee. At the end of the day, that’s really the issue. Nobody would take a knee if people were listening to the message. No one’s listening to the message so guys continue to want to protest.”

Avril, 32, put his own spin on the protests last season, standing for the beginning of the national anthem and then sitting toward the end.

“For me, I’m all about taking action,” Avril said. "If I sit around and wait on people to help, things won’t ever get done. I’m actually in the community. I’m going to the juvenile detention center. I’m going to inner city and seeing what’s going on. I grew up in the inner city. I know what’s going on. I want to put action behind it, and I’ll bring other people along as they hear about it or whatever. But the objective is to try to make change in the most peaceful way. Obviously if it doesn’t affect some people, they don’t really care or they’re not willing to listen – and I understand that. So I’m going to do it myself. That’s what it boils down to.”

Many NFL fans feel the players are disrespecting the military, but that, Avril said, is a prime example of people changing the narrative and not acknowledging the players’ message.

“As for as the military, not one person has ever said anything negative about the military,” Avril said. “My little brother is in the Coast Guard. I’ve got friends that I went to high school with that are in the military and all those guys are pro us kneeling because of the different things that are going on in our country. So it really just depends on who you talk to and who it affects the most. 

“They’re changing the narrative,” Avril continued. “No one’s listening to the players when they speak. They write their own story about it, and no one’s listening. That’s part of the problem. Some people want to listen, some people don’t. But I understand that if it doesn’t affect you, a lot of times you don’t think it exists – and I understand that. But a lot of people are actually opening up their ears. A lot of people are actually wanting to have that dialogue. I still see change.”