At the time, Kelly Stafford—wife of Detroit Lions star Matthew Stafford—was no fan of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel for the national anthem. Despite Kaepernick’s assurances he meant no disrespect to the U.S. military, Stafford didn't see it that way.
“When Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, I had strong feelings about it,” an apologetic Stafford expressed in an Instagram post this weekend. “I kept not listening to him or anyone else and let the political rhetoric persuade me that him kneeling was disrespectful to our military.”
Kaepernick became a pariah for his controversial stance, though the social climate in our country has shifted drastically of late amid growing acceptance of the Black Lives Matter movement. The general public eviscerated long-tenured Saints quarterback Drew Brees for opposing anthem protests earlier this summer, representing a 180 from years earlier when Kaepernick was exiled for kneeling.
Recent events have opened Stafford’s eyes, allowing her to see things from Kaepernick’s perspective. “Over the past several months, I have opened my ears, mind and heart and it has opened my eyes to see how wrong I was and for that I am sorry,” said Stafford, explaining her sudden change of heart. “This systematic racism is not going away unless we ALL work on it by working on ourselves and those around us. It’s time for everyone to do their part to help end this system.”
Feeling that words wouldn’t suffice, the Stafford family has pledged $350,000 for social justice programs at the University of Georgia (their alma mater). It’s refreshing to see Stafford evolve while acknowledging her past shortcomings. A former college cheerleader, Kelly underwent a grueling, 12-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor last summer, but has since recovered.