Since last month’s NFL preseason opener, a growing number of players have taken a cue from the former San Fransisco 49ers player and activist, Colin Kaepernick, by silently taking a knee (kneeling instead of standing) during the ritual pre-game performance of the national anthem.
Last Friday, the issue became a topic of national conversation when President Trump used his platform to lambaste the NFL players who have done so, calling for players who kneel during the anthem to be fired from their jobs. The president initially started by talking about his respect for the American flag, then segued into the topic of NFL players’ increasing protests: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘get that son of a bitch off the field. He’s fired. HE’S FIRED’?”
Across many teams, players have begun taking a knee — as started by currently unsigned quarterback Kaepernick in 2016 to protest police brutality against Black people — or linking arms in solidarity and support of their teammates who chose to participate in their peaceful protest. Even coaches and owners have publicly voiced their stance in support of players who participate in this legal and respectful form of protest.
While the president insisted that these acts of protest are “totally disrespectful” to the nation, his words didn’t sit well with hundreds of NFL players, coaches, and team owners, who all either protested or supported their teammate’s protests over the weekend.
While the President continues to call out Black players for their lack of respect of the flag, New England Patriots Quarterback (and Mr. Gisele Bunchen) Tom Brady directly addressed the President’s comments, calling Trump’s address nothing more than “divisive.”
While Brady has actively insisted that he didn’t want to wade into politics in the past, his decision to speak clearly on his team’s protest efforts shows what’s really going on behind the scenes. Early Monday morning, NFL Spokesman Joe Lockhart pointedly told reporters that political discussion is an example of what “real locker room talk is” — a reference to the President’s dismissal of his past sexist comments as “locker room talk.”
Even the league’s Commissioner Roger Goodell is impressed with the league’s support of all players, saying, “The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud. I’m proud of our league.”
The NFL has further supported players’ rights by re-airing their 2017 league commercial, “Inside These Lines,” during Sunday night’s game between Oakland and Washington. The spot was first aired during this year’s Super Bowl and depicts players of every walk of life embracing and supporting each other, while a narrator says, “inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination.”
What do you think of the NFL protests? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via Patrick Smith/Getty)