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Matt Ryan Discusses Colin Kaepernick, Racism, Supporting Protests, More

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 18, 2020

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks to throw a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. The Falcons won the game 28-22 in overtime. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Wednesday and discussed a number of topics related to the ongoing social justice movement in the United States against systemic racism and police brutality:

Noah brought up the NFL's recent support of Black Lives Matter and ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been out of the league for three years after protesting systemic racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem in the 2016 NFL season. 

He asked Ryan where he wanted to see the league "going forward from here":

"Of course, we would have liked for this to have taken place much sooner than it has, but we can't really change what has happened up until this point. We can only control the change that we can have moving forward.

"And I think within the last couple of weeks you have seen positive steps in the right direction, but we need to continue to take those steps, and we need to continue to push forward.

"I feel like I can no longer sit on the sidelines and just kind of let it happen the way other people want it to happen. I think it's our responsibility as leaders and as players in this league who have a platform to be able to speak to continue to push the narrative forward and to make the change that we want to make."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently released a video lending his support for Black Lives Matter and apologizing for how the league handled kneeling protests. He also publicly expressed that he hoped a team would sign the 33-year-old Kaepernick. 

NFL @NFL

We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange https://t.co/ENWQP8A0sv

Noah also asked about Ryan's experiences given events that have occurred in Atlanta and Georgia at-large, including the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks:

"Well it's been difficult to see everything going on in our city and in our state. Your heart goes out to their families and their loved ones because it's just deaths that shouldn't have happened. That's been part of me wanting to speak out, help out in ways that I can.

"You mentioned I don't have these other ties to my professional life right now. We have this time, we have this opportunity to be able to put our energy and effort into that, and I think it's an important thing to be able to do that right now because we need to make a change. The way things have operated and the way things have gone up until this point isn't good enough. My hope is to be able to use the platform that I have to create awareness and help in ways that I can help."

Ryan released a statement following the death of Brooks, a 27-year-old black man who was shot twice in the back by police after they were called to a drive-thru in Atlanta where Brooks had fallen asleep in his car on June 12. The police officer, Garrett Rolfe, has been fired and charged with felony murder and 10 other charges, per CNN.com.

Noah also asked about how and why Ryan decided to use his platform to speak out and create change:

"Well No. 1, this was something that my friends and my teammates were saying. As I was listening, some of the comments that were made were that we appreciate you guys having our back and telling us that you support us, but I think it will help more if you did it publicly and you were able to go out and use the platform that you have to encourage change.

"So that was one of the parts, just as a friend and listening to my friends and my teammates, it just seemed like that was the next step that needed to happen because what we had been doing up until this point hadn't really worked. So, if you continue to try and do the same things you've done up until this point, you're going to continue to get the same results.

"So for whatever reason, the timing, I felt like I had to do it because I regretted not doing that up until this point. I regretted just staying on the sidelines and not helping out in the ways that I could, so it really stemmed from conversations that I've had with my friends about what can I do to make a difference."

Ryan started a GoFundMe called Advancing The Lives (ATL) Of The Black Community. The 12-year veteran donated $500,000 to kickstart the cause, which has raised $1.26 million toward its $2 million goal as of 12 a.m. ET on Thursday. All proceeds will go toward supporting the black community in Atlanta.

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