KNEELING AS A FORM OF PROTEST RETURNS TO THE NFL
By Erik Gibbs
The U.S. is in an uproar over what many now see as gross racial inequality on several fronts. After two high-profile race-charged incidents occurred almost back to back this year, the country has been dealing with major riots, looting and even calls for entire police departments to be disbanded. As the disturbances die down, some of which have been peaceful, the cause of the uproar won’t be forgotten, and NFL fans have been put on notice. Colin Kaepernick may have been lambasted and forced out of the league because he knelt during the national anthem, but his message is going to continue, and more players are planning on kneeling during the playing of the national anthem once football gets started.
Kaepernick became well-known for kneeling during the anthem as a form of protest against racial inequality three years ago, but many, at the time, took it as a sign of disrespect for the country. Adrian Peterson, a running back for the Washington Redskins, has become one of the first to assert that he will follow in Kaepernick’s footsteps when the NFL kicks off this September, but there’s a good chance that the action won’t meet the same type of negative reaction as it did a few years ago.
The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd have rocked the nation, with armed National Guard soldiers being forced to take to the streets to restore peace and order. Kaepernick’s form of protest had all but been forgotten since he couldn’t find a team willing to sign him, but the killings have brought to the surface once again the message he was peacefully trying to convey previously.
Peterson expects others to join him this time around, and doesn’t expect players to be afraid of possible retribution on the part of the league – the NFL would be stupid to try to penalize players for their actions. The NFL MVP and seven-time Pro Bowler adds, “We’ve got to put the effort in as a group collectively. Are they going to try to punish us all? If not, playing football is going to help us save lives and change things, then that’s what it needs to be.”
The league has already come forward to say that it will take a lighter approach to the passive form of protest, a decision that President Trump has condemned as being weak. It has also apologized for “not listening” to players on the subject of racism, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell posted a message on Twitter regarding the topic, stating, “We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”
We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv