Courageous NFL Players Defy Attacks, Continue Protests

October 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


This Sunday, in the face of ongoing attacks, significant protests by National Football League (NFL) players continued during the playing of the U.S. national anthem for a sixth straight week.

Trump has tweeted at least 22 times against NFL players, called for them to be fired, and called those who protest the anthem “sons of bitches.” Videos of people burning NFL player jerseys have been posted on YouTube. Numerous players have received death threats and abusive, racist insults. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys (“America’s Team”), said players who “disrespect the flag will not play in the game” (the Cowboys did not have a game this week). When ESPN sportscaster Jemele Hill said on Twitter that fans who disagreed with Jones should boycott the Cowboys advertisers, she was suspended by the network.

In the face of this virulent, white supremacist opposition, many players have persevered. Players from at least eight teams engaged in various forms of protest by the time the first round of games was over this Sunday, with more to be played later in the day and Monday. A week after Mike Pence walked out of a San Francisco 49ers game after players protested, seven 49ers took a knee at their game in Washington, DC. Other protests included Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders, who sat on the team bench during the anthem; two players from the Kansas City Chiefs—Ukeme Eligwe, who sat during the anthem, and Marcus Peters, who kneeled; Kenny Stills, Mike Thomas, and Julius Thomas of the Miami Dolphins, who stayed in the locker room until the anthem was over; Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers, who raised his fist. At the Thursday game, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod of the Philadelphia Eagles raised their fists, and Chris Long, a white player from Charlottesville, put his arm around Jenkins in solidarity. Meanwhile, Okung wrote a call for the players to “Get Organized” on the Players Tribune.

Colin Kaepernick initiated the take a knee protests last season when he was playing for the 49ers. Now Kaepernick is out of work and has not been picked up by any NFL team despite a proven record as a winning, creative player, one who is well liked and respected by teammates. On Sunday, Kaepernick filed an official grievance against the NFL. The grievance says team owners “colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice.”

It is very significant that these athletes are continuing to protest. They are putting a lot on the line—their careers, even their lives—to take a highly public stand against police brutality and the oppression of Black people.

Everyone who opposes injustice, and wants to see an end to the oppression of Black people, must support them, and oppose any efforts to silence them.


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