Dhani Jones is more than just a former NFL linebacker. He’s a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and world traveler, among other attributes.
He’s also an activist. And he’s happy that NFL players have sparked a dialogue about racial injustice in America.
“It’s timely,” the 39-year-old Jones said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “It’s timely. It’s funny: I heard some people talking about it a couple weeks ago about when Muhammad Ali was doing his own protest. There’s been a lot of subsequent players that have lived through a time where things have had sensitive issues, and there’s a lot of things that are going on right now in America. We’re at a heightened sensitivity because politics is just on fire. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. People are sort of open and honest and maybe not as open and honest, and now people are asked to be more open and honest and have a very frank discussion.”
And to think, this all started more than a year ago by a guy who is no longer in the league.
“When Colin took a knee after sitting down – by virtue of a relationship that he had with a military service member – I don’t know if he knew what the political fall-out would be, and I don’t know if a lot of players actually knew what was actually going to occur,” Jones said. “All I know is now there’s players, there’s coaches, there’s managers, there’s owners – Goodell, the players’ association – there’s people all over the world right now that are talking about it. I think that’s the most important thing during any protest – is that you’re raising awareness.”
Even if it makes people uncomfortable. Especially if it makes people uncomfortable.
Indeed, people are taught not to talk about certain hot-button topics – such as politics – but if we don’t talk about it, Jones said, how will we know what people think? How will we progress as a society?
“You don’t talk about it at the dinner table, you don’t talk about it in the locker room, you don’t talk about it on the field – but we have to talk about it if we’re actually going to get to know people and who they are and what they truly believe in,” Jones said. “Real truth is ugly. You have to go through the mud. You have to go through the dirt and the gravel and the grime, and you have to be willing to get bumped and bruised in order to kind of get to the real crux of who we are as Americans or as people or who we are as black people or as white people or as Asian-Americans.
“There’s so may different things we have yet to discuss in these changing times,” Jones continued. “Regardless of what your politics are, things are at a heightened sense. It’s going to be important to go through all of this muck and in the end come out on the other side and say, ‘Wow, we went through all of this, and now we’re better because of it.’”