Former Broncos LB Brandon Marshall on kneeling in 2016, current riots and more

Brandon Marshall in 2018. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports.
Brandon Marshall in 2018. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports.

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to controversy.

The former Broncos star linebacker was also Colin Kaepernick’s college teammate at Nevada. And, if we rewind to 2016, Marshall was one of a small handful of Broncos players to kneel during the National Anthem in a show of solidarity with Kaepernick.

“Really, it’s an issue that’s not new, it’s been going on for a long time, way before I was born,” Marshall said of the police brutality we’ve seen lately on Afternoon Drive Monday afternoon. “It’s an issue we tried to bring light to in 2016. I think this is what happens when you think a problem is not that serious or it’s not that big or you feel like it doesn’t apply to you or you sweep it under the rug.

“I don’t condone the looting and violence, but this is what happens,” Marshall continued. “Something happens and now everybody is upset.”

What happened was the abhorrent killing of George Floyd in the streets by four Minneapolis police officers, all filmed on camera, which has been shared countless times on social media in the last week. That led to protests and riots across the country, even in Denver, where we’ve seen even more examples of police brutality.

“The good thing about it is, everybody is unifying,” Marshall explained. “It’s not just blacks and brown people, it’s white people protesting and caring about this issue.”

Back in 2016, Kaepernick and other players who knelt were the subject of ridicule, not only from fans of the most popular sport in America, but from the president of the United States.

Now, four years later, we’re finally seeing others joining in, although there is still a great divide in the country of two Americas.

“I’m happy,” Marshall said of seeing some police officers kneeling in protest. “I can’t be anything else but happy that the tide is finally turning. The perception of the peaceful protest is finally turning.

“People are finally understanding now what message we were trying to convey back in 2016…I think back to 2016; the only thing we were missing was prominent white figures protesting or speaking up about it.”

That’s a great point. And, considering how Kaepernick — and even Marshall — were blackballed due to their kneeling, it’s not surprising that more white players didn’t stand up. The NFL is a “you’re with us or against us” culture; the owners weren’t standing for players kneeling.

And now that Marshall is out of the NFL, he looks to safety Justin Simmons to carry the torch as a community leader for the Broncos.

“He’s a great man,” Marshall said of Simmons. “it seems like the Denver community is receiving him better than they received me. I love it, man. I love his leadership.”

Simmons spoke at a rally on Sunday, using his prominence to help further the cause (although the tweet of the video seems to be taken down).

While these are difficult and divisive issues, and some fans want us to “stick to sports,” no one can separate the insane brutality going on in the streets from our everyday lives.

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