Burning NFL gear in protest: It just makes no sense

Rich Polk  Getty Images for Love is Louder
Rayvon Owen performs on Aug. 13 2016 in Los Angeles

More than 200 players kneeled or sat during the anthem last Sunday after Trump criticized the National Football League in a speech and a series of tweets. Sam had a attractive moment when he was drafted; despite the free fall of multiple rounds past his projection, he was still ecstatic to be picked and kissed his boyfriend on national television as part of his celebration.

Unfortunately it was not for in game action, but what was transpiring outside of the field of play. I was an employee and that was part of my job.

Three years later, the 2017 football season has nearly entirely changed my beliefs on what the league could possibly stand for. Invoking politics in the moment simply is not appropriate. It is this last step which for us usually takes the longest.

The protests have received heavy criticism from many football fans and most visibly from President Donald Trump, who on September 23 tweeted: "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem". Kaepernick's actions were in response to the nation's ongoing problems with police brutality. He also called for these players to be fired. Stephen Curry, the phenomenal long-distance shooter of the champion Golden State Warriors, mused that he wouldn't be joining teammates at a White House reception for them in light of Trump's attitude. "But I do not agree with it being protested during a song that unites our great country".

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Still, Kaepernick stayed with it. The National Basketball Association didn't stop him from doing it, but by fining him every time he did so, it made a statement that it was Abdul-Rauf, and not the NBA as a whole, protesting America and its anthem. This only works to polarize the United States. It's seemingly on a weekly basis that an unarmed black person is gunned down by police.

The Colts tweeted a statement from their players explaining why kneeling is not meant to be disrespectful of the flag.

Kaepernick's message of black oppression has spread.

"Possession of a gun or other weapon in any workplace setting, including but not limited to stadiums, team facilities, training camp, locker rooms, team planes, buses, parking lots, etc., or unlawful possession of a weapon outside of the workplace" is considered "conduct detrimental and subject to discipline", the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy standard declares.

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Later Trump tweeted embedded video of fans and players standing at an NHL game, writing "19,000 RESPECTING our National Anthem!" Even professional baseball player Bruce Maxwell joined the protest, kneeling before an Oakland Athletics game. We exercise and express our freedoms unabashedly and boldly.

Colin Kaepernick first took a knee 13 months ago and now, 400 days later, we have seen hundreds take a knee. When you oppose the American flag - and those defending it - you're going to lose.

Thinking of football, we normally consider tailgates and touchdowns to be the attractions of one of America's most popular sports.

I started remembering that day as I was watching many football players taking a knee while our national anthem was being played. "I just couldn't help thinking that he has attacked these black athletes for peacefully protesting, but he doesn't really attack white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klanners, or Vladimir Putin, who interfered in our election".

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