DeShields revealed to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that during the 2017 season, while playing for the Texas Rangers, he was asked by the former Oakland Athletics catcher to join him in the protest before an A's-Rangers game. DeShields said he discussed the issue with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels but eventually declined.
Maxwell became the first MLB player to take a knee, doing so by himself before two A's-Rangers contests. While watching Maxwell get booed for the protest in both Oakland and Arlington, DeShields started to second-guess himself.
"In Oakland, I looked over there and I felt like I was selling out," DeShields told Grant. "It (messed) me up for a minute. And then, when they came (to Texas) and he was booed for simply expressing his voice, it made me mad. All these people that I had played for were booing my brother. I did not want to play.
"I've carried that on my back a long time. It never sat right with me and still doesn't."
DeShields has been one of baseball's loudest voices on social media since protests began across the United States after Minneapolis man George Floyd died while in police custody. The 27-year-old DeShields, who has several tattoos depicting Negro League baseball stars, has gone public with his own stories of experiencing racism, including at the hands of officers.
Going forward, DeShields is hoping to continue using his platform to speak up for change. While he stopped short of saying he'll take a knee when baseball resumes, he also won't sit silently and hopes white players can help the cause.
"I'm for the kneeling because the system is broken," DeShields said. "But I don't feel like there are enough of us in baseball to make an impact. There are other ways for us to show our unity.
"But I need white people. They have the voice and the power. I don't need people to say, 'I don't see color.' I need people to see that I'm black and I need them to back me up."
DeShields spent the first five years of his major-league career with the Rangers. He was traded to Cleveland in December.