NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rishard Matthews will back his protest against racial injustice and oppression with action. The Tennessee Titans receiver said he will donate $75,000 to be spread out among organizations working in oppressed communities.
Matthews’ donation decision follows his stance stated earlier this week that he would “kneel until the president apologizes” for his inflammatory comments attacking the NFL and its protesting players.
“Moving forward, I don’t want this to be a publicity stunt,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to take away from what the whole protest is about, which is oppression, police brutality and inequality in this country. I fully stand with my brother Kaep, and I plan to continue to do that.”
This has been a constantly evolving stance for Matthews, a college teammate of Colin Kaepernick’s at Nevada who grew up as a military brat. Matthews’ father served in the military for 23 years. His brother, Christopher Ruiz, was a Marine who died in Afghanistan. The two-year anniversary of his death is Monday.
Matthews said players can be pro-military while still using their platforms to protest social issues during the anthem. He initially refused to protest during the anthem out of respect for his fallen brother, but he now believes his brother would agree with his stance. Matthews is challenging those who criticize the protests to understand that.
“I’ve actually had a lot of military people reach out to me to say, ‘Good job for standing up for your rights and people who don’t have a voice,’ and that they support me whether I decide to stand or kneel,” Matthews said Wednesday. “People keep using the military as a distraction. It’s not anything about the military. It’s about social injustice.”
Matthews raised a right fist, which has been recognized as a symbol for solidarity against racial injustice, after his 55-yard touchdown last Sunday against the Seahawks. Before the game, Matthews wore cleats that read “We are one” and “We all bleed the same.”