3 prominent Houston sports figures that have joined the push for racial equality

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stared straight into the camera and spoke bluntly. "We, the NFL" have failed our players and, more important, the American ideal by not acknowledging racial injustice.

"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."

Only one thing was missing: an unqualified apology to Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem several years ago. Kaepernick, a Super Bowl quarterback in the prime of his career, was blackballed from the NFL. He lost his career and tens of millions of dollars, but gained his voice against police oppression and brutality toward African-American people. His people, our citizens. Is it possible for Sports Illustrated to retroactively present its 2016 Sportsperson of the Year award to Kaepernick? Time Magazine might want to reconsider its Person of the Year honor, too.

On this day George Floyd is laid to rest, across America protestors, rich and poor, all colors and backgrounds, are marching to end racism. It is thrilling to watch, and if you don't think those protestors won't change America, you just watch. History is on the protestors' side.

It's exciting to watch American athletes, who we cheer in stadiums and arenas, take a knee on downtown streets protesting systemic racism in our country. Roger Goodell finally understands. Michael Jordan, long criticized for not speaking out on social issues, is talking loud and clear now, and he's putting his money where his voice is - $100 million over 10 years from his Jordan brand.

"We have been beaten down for so many years. It sucks your soul," Jordan told the Charlotte Observer. "You can't accept it anymore. This is a tipping point. We need to make a stand. We've got to be better as a society regarding race."

Don't tell LeBron James to shut up and dribble. Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook gave an impassioned speech to a large crowd of protestors in Compton, "I challenge all you guys to continue to stick together. Continue to fight for one another, continue to lift one another up. Protect your home, protect your team, protect your family."

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson appeared with other NFL stars in a video pushing the league to condemn racism. Watson is urging his college, Clemson, to remove the name of a slave owner from programs and buildings. Houston Astros slugger Alex Bregman clapped back at a Twitter follower who advised him to stick to sports and not comment on social issues, or else he'd lose 75 percent of his fans, "If hating the KKK loses me fans, I hope I lose them."

Hundreds of sports heroes in the U.S. and around the world are putting it on the line – racism will not be tolerated. According to one recent poll, 80 percent of Americans think our country is "out of control," Another poll says, for the first time, a majority of Americans believe police are more likely to use "excessive force" against black people. If you want hope that we can do better on fulfilling America's promise, read Cincinnati Reds' first baseman Joey Votto's beautiful op-ed piece titled "My Awakening" in last Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer.

Last week, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had his own awakening. After making an unintended racially insensitive comment, "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States or our country," Brees received much criticism from teammates and other athletes. Brees educated himself about the national debate on race, and offered a long and tearful apology with no "if you were offended" wiggle room or back pedaling. Then he apologized again. Then a third time privately to his teammates. Then his wife Brittany issued an apology of her own, "WE ARE THE PROBLEM," she posted on Instagram.

President Trump weighed in that Brees needn't have apologized for standing up for the flag. "He should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American flag. Old Glory is to be revered, cherished and flown high," Mr. Trump said.

Brees fired back at the president: "It has never been (about the flag). We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from real issues that face our black communities."

It was particularly disappointing to hear other voices criticizing Brees now. They claim to be Brees fans and say their favorite quarterback appeared weak by apologizing. They say that Brees was forced to do it. Besides, he really didn't mean his "fake apology."

Calling Brees a liar and a racist in his heart, that's not a fan. That's someone who needs to be enlightened about issues of race in America.

When you don't take seriously Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien's message about racism, and wave off his comments because he traded away your favorite player, judge what's in his heart and not worry so much about clock management of a football game.

Some voices dismiss African-American sports celebrities who speak against racism. They say, these players are rich, what do they know about suffering racism? They're showboating for attention. Fake outrage.

What difference does money make when you hurt? Instead of questioning their motivation or doubting their sincerity, listen to what they're saying. In 2015, James Blake, a world Top 5 tennis player, former Harvard guy, was viciously thrown to the ground and handcuffed by a New York cop who mistook him for a different African-American.

The incident was reviewed by an independent oversight board, which determined that the cop used "excessive force" against Blake. There had been five similar complaints from citizens that year, all citing unnecessary physical abuse by the police officer. His punishment for attacking and injuring Blake? The NYPD commissioner took five vacation days away from the officer.

The U.S. is at a crossroads. Sides are drawn. Amazing Americans, protesting peacefully, aren't giving up this time.

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Keep an eye on Tank Dell this Sunday. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

I remember thinking how in the world can these little frail guys survive at the NFL level? I mean, I saw Joe Theismann and Ed McCaffrey's legs snap. Drew Bledsoe got his chest caved in. Seeing 300-plus pound men cry when injured is humbling. So when a guy like Tank Dell comes along, I'm always a bit apprehensive. Especially when they come with a ton of hype.

For every eight to ten big strong players that get hurt, there's one or two little fellas that have relatively healthy careers. The comp that came to mind when looking at Tank was DeSean Jackson. Listed at 5'10 and weighing a heavy 175 pounds, Jackson was arguably the best “small guy” in NFL history. Dell being about two inches shorter and about ten pounds lighter, while also playing a similar role, is in line to be a similarly electrifying type of player. I put my assessment on the line and doubled down with my predictions on what his, and others' season totals will look like last week:

Tank Dell: 68 catches, 1,105 yards and 6 touchdowns- Dell will be a really good slot, but has some outside skills. Namely, his speed. He's more slippery than if Mick had greased that chicken before Rocky tried catching it. I could see his production going up as the season gets longer because Stroud will begin to look for him more and more as they build chemistry. Yes, I know I only have him with six scores. Keep in mind this is a run first offense. At least that's what we can deduce from looking at where it came from in San Francisco.

In his debut game last week vs the Ravens, he notched three catches for 34 yards on four targets. He was tied for third on the team in targets with Noah Brown and Mike Boone. While Robert Woods and Nico Collins were one and two in targets last week, I think Dell will ascend that list starting this week. Word came down that Noah Brown is headed to IR, meaning he'll miss at least the next four weeks. The chemistry he and fellow rookie C.J. Stroud have developed is palpable. From working out together, to attending UH games together, these two seem to have a nice bond already.

Woods is a solid vet two years removed from an ACL injury. Collins was a third rounder with size who hasn't done a whole lot. Dell is easily the most exciting option at receiver this team has. John Metchie III was expected to be the next guy up. Unfortunately, cancer had him take a backseat, until now. Metchie is back at practice this week, so a debut is imminent. He could potentially challenge for more playing time, but it may take him some time to get used to things and get going again.

As far as my statistical prediction for his season, he only needs to average four catches for 67 yards per game, and get a touchdown every two to three games for the remainder of the season. Given Brown being out the next few games, Metchie not quite being up to speed, Woods being an older player on a short-term deal, and Collins not really being what everyone thought he could be, it leaves things wide open for Dell to step up.

Playmakers come in all shapes and sizes. Levon Kirkland was a 300-pound middle linebacker in a 3-4. Doug Flutie led teams to playoff wins as a 5'9 quarterback. In football, size matters. The bigger, stronger guys normally win out. When it comes to receiving and returns, you want speed, quickness, and agility. Dell has that in spades. Add his competitive nature and chemistry with his quarterback and you have a recipe for a star in the making. I know I'm not the only one hoping the Texans continue Tank-ing.

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