Although many may claim sports and social activism are mutually exclusive, history has shown a plethora of athletes using their sports platforms to let their voices be heard and make a difference in their communities. Muhammad Ali, James Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, and now Colin Kaepernick. The NFL has been taken by storm in the last year with national anthem protests over the unjust judicial system and the killing of unarmed black men and women in America and as expected, not everyone has shown a liking to it. The NFL’s television ratings have declined and criticism surrounding players, coaches and the owners has been at an all time high. The latest criticism coming from none other than Donald Trump, or in the words of the great Lebron James, Bum 45. Trump made headlines for his asinine comments as usual and took aim at the NFL and its owners.
Trump recently held a speech at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, and addressed some of his supporters. Trump fed off of the energy of the crowd who boosted his ego higher than a Mariah Carey note. According to the Washington Examiner, Trump stated the following. “We are proud of our country. We respect our flag. 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 right now. He is fired. He’s fired!” The choice of words by Bum 45 were in response to the national anthem protests which started with Colin Kaepernick over a year ago. Since then many players have either taken a knee, raised a fist, or simply sat down during the national anthem. In the aftermath of Trump’s words, many players and owners decided to take action this past weekend during the national anthem and during their games.
A plethora of teams including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, the Atlanta Falcons and others had players kneeling during the anthem, locking arms or even a mixture of both. Other teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to stay in the locker room to avoid protests. Odell Beckham Jr, the consensus number one receiver in the NFL, raised his fist after scoring his second touchdown of the day for the New York Giants. Via the New York Times, Trump tweeted in response to the protests that locking arms was good but kneeling was unacceptable.
Many may have their criticisms, but this past Sunday was a great move for the NFL and us as a society. I wasn’t particularly happy that it took this particular situation or this amount of time for the majority to feel “comfortable” make a stand or voice their opinions but I am of the mindset that it is sometimes better late that never. If this is what it takes for others to wake up and realize why others are taking a knee and protesting, so be it. I am particularly proud of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees all of whom are white quarterbacks at an elite level for standing up. Brady and Rodgers for showing Kaepernick deserves to play in the NFL and Brees for stating his support of free speech and addressing the issue at hand. This is a small step towards a large resolution needed in America.