Jones: Athletes Have Opinions, Right To Protest

Thomas Jones dropped by Tiki and Tierney for a candid interview about race, politics, player protests, and President Trump, among other topics

Tiki and Tierney
July 11, 2018 - 6:30 pm

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Former first-round pick and NFL Pro Bowler Thomas Jones dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday for a candid interview about race, politics, player protests, and President Donald Trump.

“I think the league is stuck between a rock and a hard place because this is the first time that something like this has really happened,” Jones said in studio on Tiki and Tierney. “When we (entered the league), I don’t think we even came out for the national anthem. I think we were in the locker room. As far as information, there was no text messages. There was no Twitter, social media – things didn’t spread as fast. You didn’t have as much information as you do now.”

Now, however, people have that information. Instantly. Often disseminated with spin or bias, which leads to division.

“Being an athlete, people love to say, ‘Shut up and do that – dribble, run the ball, catch a ball’ because they look at the money we make and they think that the money should satisfy everything,” Jones said. “They forget that we’re human beings just like them. I have the utmost respect for anyone that can do something special. I don’t know if I could build a house. I don’t know if I could ever fly a plane. I have the utmost respect for a pilot. But at the end of the day, you can’t just tell somebody that they shouldn’t have an opinion because they get paid millions of dollars to do something that you can’t do.

“Football is just one thing. Life is everything,” Jones continued. “Unfortunately, there are injustices that are going on in the country, and unfortunately, there are things that are happening that people are turning a blind eye to. Because the NFL is such a huge platform, certain people feel the need to speak on that. And I completely agree with them.”

Jones, 39, reiterated the true purpose of the player protests, as that has seemingly been lost in the shuffle.

“It’s not about the anthem. It’s about what’s going on with police brutality,” said Jones, who played with Tiki Barber at Virginia. “A lot of the positive things, its crickets. They’re not giving as much praise for the positive things as they are the negative for the things that they don’t want to see. I think if you’re going to give one, then you need to be fair and give the other one as well.”

Jones explained that football is an apolitical event despite what some in media and politics – and the NFL – want people to believe.

“Football is football. People . . . try to make it seem as if football is a political sport; it’s not,” Jones said. “It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry separate from the military. The military is the military. They protect and serve this country with honor and dignity and we all have the utmost respect for them. Football is a corporation. I think sometimes people get it confused because of the aesthetics that are around it, but in reality, they’re two separate entities. So if Colin Kaepernick or a player is kneeling in protest, he’s in America. That’s what those soldiers are fighting for us to do – peacefully. And he asked a military veteran, ‘What should I do?’ The military veteran advised him to take a knee. 

“And so, obviously you can’t please everyone,” Jones continued. “I respect the people who don’t want to deal with any type of politics, whether it’s kneeling for the national anthem or knowing how bad Donald Trump is screwing up the country. Whatever it may be, I respect them for that. But the reality is if you’re going to deal with the kneeling of the national anthem and all the other problems that come with the NFL, then you’ve got to respect the people that have an issue with certain things and use it as a platform to speak on.”

Jones also addressed Brandon Tierney’s concern that things have become too all-or-nothing these days. President Trump is an example that, as many people either love him or hate him.

“It’s about perspective,” Jones said. “With Donald Trump, I think this is an extreme situation. It’s one thing to have a leak in your house; it’s another thing to have a flood. I think with some of the things that are going on just from a humanity standpoint, I don’t think policy has to do with those things. I think those are separate. I think those are the issues that most people have with him and the administration. It’s some of the inhumane things that are going on based off of race. I’ll call a spade a spade. If someone’s wrong, they’re wrong. I have nothing to hide. I have no political agenda. I’m not a politician. I’m not running for office. I have my opinion, just like everyone else has their opinion. But I definitely think because the NFL has the military involved and the flag involved that they’re going to have to accept all the byproducts of that. You can’t have one without the other. It’s impossible.”

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