So gallantly kneeling: Pay attention to the message, not method

By John Miller

America continues to see divisiveness about NFL players protesting during the national anthem and people get triggered about it.

It started in August 2016 with one player: Colin Kaepernick.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback first sat through the anthem during a preseason game to show his support for people of color who are being oppressed in the United States. Kaepernick went unnoticed the first two times, games in which he did not play, but he gained attention when he was suited up to play the third time.

Several players joined Kaepernick in the following weeks, including Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who took a knee for the anthem on the regular season opener.

“I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America,” Marshall said, according to the Denver Post. “I’m against social injustice.”

It’s as simple as that. What Marshall said over a year ago needs to be reiterated over and over again, given the current state of the NFL and our nation.

Now, entering Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season, entire teams are participating in silent protests during the national anthem. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks stayed in the locker room while the anthem was performed. Other teams, such as the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, stood as one with players and team executives linking arms.

Players are reacting strongly to Trump for what he said during and after a political rally (he knows the election is over, right?) in Huntsville, Alabama, on Sept. 22. The statement that set people off was, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that SOB off the field right now?’”

In the following days he proceeded to take more shots at NFL players and owners, questioning their patriotism and calling them “privileged millionaires.”

Is Mr. President right in saying this? I say no.

Now, as a fan, I would never sit during the anthem. When I hear, “Please rise and remove your hats for the singing of tonight’s national anthem,” I do just that.

While it’s being performed, I feel pride. No matter how much I agree or disagree with who is in power, or what is happening in the U.S., that song reminds me how fortunate I am to have a life here.

I believe this is the same mindset of the NFL players.

From the beginning of these protests, people have misinterpreted the message of these players. They are kneeling, locking arms, sitting and even refusing to make an appearance during the anthem as a message to President Trump. Their goal is not to oppose the military, the police, the flag or America. They are trying to tell Trump that they will not stand for what he is saying.

Why can’t we appreciate that these NFL players actually care about what is happening in our nation? If these guys are the “privileged” and “unpatriotic” people described by Trump, they wouldn’t really care about what’s happening with people other than themselves. They’d care about the paycheck and nothing else.

To be considered a “patriot” today, you apparently have to pledge loyalty to those in power no matter what they say or do. That doesn’t sound patriotic to me. Wanting equality and freedom for every American is patriotic.

Everything has to be people with one viewpoint pitted against people with a different viewpoint. Don’t place me on a side. I’m not on a side.

I choose to stand for the anthem. Those who sit, kneel or lock arms in a form of peaceful protest are fine to do that. It’s their freedom as Americans.

In conclusion, I am a proud American. The NFL is full of proud Americans. We’re all on the same team, and the sooner people start realizing that, the sooner we can make progress in this great nation.

God bless.

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