For the NFL players, it’s not just about football anymore.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” You could take this as a sign of why some National Football League (NFL) players are kneeling during the national anthem.
However, the protests are receiving a lot of pushback. Some fans see it as a call to justice for the police brutality to African-American people in this country, while others see it as disrespecting the flag and our military.
On Sept. 22, President Donald Trump attended a rally in Alabama where he mentioned the anthem protest. Trump said, “Wouldn’t it be great if these NFL owners saw these guys protesting, that they get them off the field and fire them?”
The following day, Trump also rescinded his White House invitation to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors basketball team after their NBA title win.
This statement did not sit well with the NFL owners and especially not with the players. The protest has even become a Twitter hashtag: #TakeAKnee. Trump also received negative comments from two of the biggest and best professional basketball players in recent memory: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
James tweeted the following at Trump regarding the comment toward Curry and his basketball team.
“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going. So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up.”
On Sept. 24, Bryant tweeted, “A #POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can’t possibly ‘Make America Great Again.’”
One of the most prominent players in the NFL, Seattle Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman, also tweeted after learning Trump’s comments. Sherman is in his seventh year in the NFL after playing four years at Stanford University.
Sherman tweeted this statement: “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”
After the statement from Trump at the Alabama rally, the NFL protests have been more organized and unified than ever before. Players have linked arms together during the anthem while standing or kneeling and a few of the teams’ owners have even joined their players on the field.
In their CNN article Sept. 25, Elliot McLaughlin and Darran Simon wrote that “players from several teams, including the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos, and the Miami Dolphins took knees during the anthem. With the exception of one player, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t even take the field until the anthem was over. The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans also chose not to take the field for the national anthem.”
The last player reactions are two players from the Los Angeles Chargers who were recently covered by the Los Angeles Times.
The first player was defensive end Chris McCain who “did not take a knee ‘to disrespect the flag, to stick a middle finger at the flag’ and that he was simply exercising his First Amendment Rights,” from an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“Our own commander-in-chief, this guy who we’re supposed to lean on and who is here to protect us, clearly is not on our side. He’s not,” said McCain.
Fellow defensive end Melvin Ingram said, “We aren’t trying to be divided in any way, shape or form. We’re just trying to show that we are one unit, one country, one world—everything.”
Last week, Roger Goodell, NFL owners and even a few players met for two days to talk about the players and the anthem protest.
“Goodell announced no plans to change the league’s policy. It says that players should stand for the anthem, but it does not require them to,” wrote Ahiza Garcia in a CNN article published Oct. 18.
“The players will state to you, and they have stated to everyone publicly, they are not doing this in any way to be disrespectful to the flag. But they also understand how it’s being interpreted,” Goodell said.
The article revealed that NFL players are protesting the anthem for deeper reasons, such as criminal justice reform.
“We believe everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell said, but the players are calling attention to “national issues, American issues.”
In my opinion, the national anthem protest is warranted and justified. I am on the side of the players in this issue. They are only taking a knee or sitting down.
They are still being silent and respectful. The fans who are yelling at the players because they are kneeling are not being very respectful to the anthem since they are making noise, should be just as frowned upon.
The NFL players are doing nothing bad. All they are doing is exercising their First Amendment right to voice their opinions about issues going on in our country. Police brutality has always been an issue, but we can see more of it nowadays because of dash cam or cell phone footage.
I am in full support of the NFL players and the fans that join the players in these peaceful protests. It is not a crime to #TakeAKnee.