Emmitt Smith says he would kneel during the national anthem to protest against racial discrimination and police brutality if he was still playing.
“Yeah, I think I would do something, just as much as I ran out there and defended that star when T.O. did what he did,” Smith said Friday, per Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The Dallas Cowboys legend and Hall of Fame running back is referring to when Terrell Owens ran onto the star in the middle of the Cowboys’ home field in 2000.
“Why not? If I can defend the star, I definitely can defend the right for everybody to have equal justice,” he said, adding:
“If I can defend the star, I can take a stand for social justice. I have been a victim of it. It’s not like I am talking because something happened to George Floyd. Something happened to me more than one time, a couple of times it happened right here in Dallas. I’m talking from experience, not something I read in a book and saw on CNN.”
Smith said he was proud of NFL players for protesting:
“I am inspired by these young cats,” he said. “There is no doubt NFL players are trying to do good in the community. Now, they are flexing their muscles in a different way. Voting happens to be one of the best ways to exercise your complete rights and really effect change through legislation and policies.”
He also took aim at Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and expressed disappointment in how Jones has approached the issue:
“Jerry needs to cut it out. He needs to cut it out. Don’t distort the message because of the flag. It is bigger than the flag. That flag ain’t hurt one soul as it waves. It is there as a reminder of what many men and women, black and white, died for. Just like those Super Bowl trophies, they are there as a reminder of what you have done in history that was good. They are not there just to be flashy. They are there to remind each and every player, team and coach that comes and works for the Dallas Cowboys organization why you are here.
“That is what that flag is a symbol of, why we fight for freedom and what we stand for as Americans. And we don’t stand for this B.S. What is the difference between injustice and bullying? You see somebody get bullied, are you supposed to keep walking down the street? No. You support that peace, but you won’t support justice for people getting killed in the streets for no apparent reason.”
The 51-year-old finished his career with the most rushing yards in history (18,355) and was an eight-time Pro Bowler, three-time Super Bowl champion and the 1993 NFL MVP.