NFL player: Don't come to the game if our protest upsets you
NFL players are sounding off about fans who are mad at them for kneeling during the National Anthem.
What they're saying is revealing.
Don't come to the game.
That's the message a couple of the Titans' star players have for any outraged fans threatening to turn their back on the team, after the Titans and Seahawks remained in the locker room during the national anthem before their game Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
They were among three NFL teams, along with the Steelers, that skipped the anthem in response to President Donald Trump's inflammatory remarks about players who kneel to protest social inequality and police brutality.
"First off, I'm going to say this: We're not disrespecting the military, the men and women that serve in the Army. That's not what it's all about," Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. "If you look at most of the guys in here – I've been in the USO. I support the troops. This is not about that. It's about equal rights, and that's all everyone is trying to show, is that we all care about each other.
"And the fans that don't want to come to the game? I mean, OK. Bye. I mean, if you feel that's something, we're disrespecting you, don't come to the game. You don't have to. No one's telling you to come to the game. It's your freedom of choice to do that."
I suppose it takes a great deal of arrogance to play in the NFL, but what's revealing about Walker's comments is that they prove that their protest for "free speech" is a little one-sided. They don't care about the fans' free speech rights. "It's your freedom of choice," said Walker, while denigrating any opposition to his actions.
At bottom, the players demand that you love them and respect them for their protest. And if you disagree, your views aren't worthy.
Titans cornerback Logan Ryan echoed the sentiment.
"That's their choice. That's the beauty of this country," Ryan said. "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone's opinion is equal. So right, wrong or indifferent, that's the beauty of this country – that everyone should have equal rights and equal opinions on what they want. If they don't want to watch, that's their choice. That's perfect."
If Ryan actually believes that "everyone's opinion is equal," he hasn't read much about this controversy. In fact, beyond the free speech aspect of the protest, there is an insidious campaign to delegitimize opposition to the protests, portraying the opposition as people who "back Trump" or are garden-variety racists.
Trump expressed an opinion of what owners should have done with protesting players. Nowhere in his rant did he suggest that the players don't have a right to protest. The players themselves seem to believe that not only do they have a right to protest, but no one should criticize them for it, and if anyone does, he is lower than nothing. Their defense that they are not dissing the flag or the military is ludicrous. They have been told in no uncertain terms by millions of people that they are. Arrogantly, they refuse to acknowledge their insult to the flag and to other Americans.
If these NFL players want "equality," perhaps they should acknowledge that those who oppose them have an equal right to the stage without being smeared for their trouble.