COSTA MESA — As he has done much of this season, Russell Okung will raise his right fist during Sunday’s national anthem at StubHub Center, his silent protest against systemic injustices in this country.
The Chargers left tackle was one of three names who withdrew from the Players Coalition earlier this week — joining the 49ers’ Eric Reid and the Dolphins’ Michael Thomas after the organization agreed in principle with the NFL on a proposal to fund and promote social change.
On Wednesday night, Okung posted a statement on Twitter calling the NFL’s efforts “disingenuous” and their proposal “woefully inadequate.” According to ESPN, the league offered at least $89 million over a seven-year period, earmarking the money toward both local and national organizations — including the United Negro College Fund and the Dream Corps.
But the offer opened up a schism within the Players Coalition, a group fronted by the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL receiver Anquan Boldin. Many — like Reid, Thomas and Okung — consider the money a superficial attempt by the league to make protests disappear without truly engaging with the players’ grievances, ranging from police brutality to educational and economic inequality.
Reid told Slate he was concerned the NFL would simply shuffle money previously allocated to other causes, such as breast cancer awareness and support for the military. The league has disputed those claims, though some remain unconvinced.
“This goes beyond dollars and cents,” Okung said Friday. “It goes beyond just allocating funds from other initiatives that are just as important. It’s going to take a real commitment of us, leveraging the platform of the players and empowering us to really talk about these issues, police engagement and brutality.
“That’s just something, I feel, that’s been made into a farce.”
The exclusion of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who kick-started protests over a year ago by sitting, and then kneeling, during the national anthem — is also a sticking point. Kaepernick has yet to sign with an NFL team, and has not been a part of discussions with the league concerning social justice reform.
“I think you’ve got to keep in mind who started this whole thing, who sort of put himself on the line,” Okung said of Kaepernick. “There’s definitely some respect there. I believe this is the same league who has effectively blackballed him.
“So when you’re dealing…