Former Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker is an elite draft prospect. He’s also an advocate for social change.
Yes, while many athletes shy away from controversy and political statements, Striker embraces them.
“I think everybody’s different,” Striker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I’m not afraid to take that step away from football to bring about a positive change when I see problems. I’m not afraid. Because at the end of the day, I know we’re not playing football for the rest of our lives. Eventually we’re going to go out into a world where we’re going to have to do some other type of working. We should want (social change). I think when I see wrongs, I’m always going to stand up against wrong and stand up for what’s right and use my voice and the platform I have to bring about a change and also inspire other people.”
Striker’s on-field talent cannot be questioned. He was the emotional leader of a defense that helped Oklahoma to a Big 12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff this past season. Still, the political science major has never shied away from taking a social or political stand.
He doesn’t expect that to change in the NFL.
“I’ve been playing football a long time,” he said. “I feel like I’m pretty good at this sport. Up to this point, I’ve been pretty good at this sport. I feel like I could take some time off to bring about awareness to bring social change. If there was something that came up that was really bad and I felt like this is bigger than the game right now and we need to do something – because we have a lot of power in our voice in what we do – then yeah, I would think we need to take a stand. Now some things you brush off. I’m not going to pay attention to ignorance or something like that. But if it’s something I feel (is affecting) us, then yeah, I would try to stand up for what’s right, definitely.”
Striker grew up reading Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, among other African-American liberators.
“I see the history of African-Americans in this country and it’s really not been easy,” Striker said. “If I see anything today, obviously I’m going to address it. This is what (happened) to us so long ago. You don’t want it to repeat itself. I think we’ve made a lot of change in this country when it comes to race, but it’s still alive and it’s still there.”