Press Box Perspective: A Little Sunday Politics

By Seth Rivello

Many fans use Sunday to get away from the drama of the outside world. They sit back and watch their favorite football team play and relax; politics is the last thing swirling around in their minds. For the past year now, politics is the only thing being talked about. Turn on ESPN or FOX Sports and there is a discussion on kneeling, sitting or raising a fist during the national anthem and/or Donald Trump.

On Aug. 26, 2016, during the San Francisco 49ers third preseason game, a photographer noticed former star quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem. Kaepernick sat for the first two preseason games also, but no one noticed. Now the picture of him sitting was national news. When asked about sitting for the anthem Kaepernick responded, “because of the oppression of people of color and ongoing issues with police brutality.”

It slowly took the league by storm. The next week, Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid took a knee together, and even inner division rival Jeremy Lane of the Seattle Seahawks took a seat. In the first game of the 2017 season, linebacker Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos took a knee. He was the first player to kneel during a regular season game.

“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.”

More teams were adding to the protest. The Miami Dolphins had players kneel, the Philadelphia Eagles had players raising their fists and standing, the Seattle Seahawks locked arms. The protests were spreading outside of the NFL also. High School football players were kneeling, and so were college and high school bands. It was becoming bigger than football.

In the early months of 2017, the kneeling wasn’t consistently talked about and Kaepernick no longer had a job. Some people think Kaepernick united the league, and some think he and his followers are just disrespecting the flag, but that isn’t the case. More and more professional athletes have been taking a stand.

On Sept. 23, 2017, Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics took a knee during the anthem, the first professional baseball player to do so. The next day, before Game 1 of the Women’s National Basketball Association Finals, players from the Los Angeles Sparks stayed in the locker room during the anthem.

On Friday, Donald Trump had this to say regarding players kneeling: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

Players were absolutely outraged and banded together. Last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to stay in the locker room for the national anthem in protest, except for former Army Ranger and current offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva. Every team locked arms or knelt together to show Trump who the real “son of a b—-” is.

Odell Beckham Jr. also showed off some big-time patriotism over the weekend. After catching his first touchdown of the season, he decided to walk on all fours and lift his leg like a dog. Then, after his second touchdown catch, he raised his fist up high in protest. Beckham said after the game, “I peed on somebody.” It’s believed he was “peeing” on President Trump. Could you imagine if Kaepernick, instead of an All-Pro receiver, celebrated like this?