Players from the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks have been remaining in their locker rooms during the national anthem to protest the criticism lobbied by President Trump.
According to Independent Journal Review, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker said he doesn’t care if fans boycott NFL games in outrage over national anthem protests. “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,” Walker said.
NFL ratings have taken a nosedive since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched his national anthem protest last year. The 2016 season saw a dramatic drop in ratings from previous years, and the viewership for the 2017 season is down an additional 11 percent.
During a rally in Huntsville, Alabama last Friday, President Trump chided NFL players who protest the national anthem and the owners who let them protest. The president explained that the owners should fire players who protest, and fans should leave games if they see players protesting.
While defending the president’s remarks, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that players are sending a mixed message by protesting during the short time dedicated to honoring our country by reciting the national anthem. When Colin Kaepernick first launched his protest in the 2016 season, he said he was protesting police brutality against black Americans.
“I think if the debate is really, for them, about police brutality, they should probably protest the officers on the field that are protecting them instead of the American flag,” Sanders said, according to NBC. The White House added that President Trump’s comments should not be considered divisive, because, “it’s always appropriate for the president of the United States to defend our flag.”
However, Delanie Walker takes issue with Sanders’ characterization. “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,” Walker explained. “…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.”
Logan Ryan, the Titans cornerback, supported Walker’s sentiment. “That’s their choice. That’s the beauty of this country,” Ryan said for fans boycotting their games. “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.”
However, contrary to Ryan’s support of free thought, not all players had the choice to stand for the national anthem.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker said he doesn’t care if fans boycott NFL games. What if the police officers protecting the players and the fans boycotted the games? Would you still attend?
Titans wide receiver Eric Decker says he was not told about his Titans’ intentions to protest the national anthem until moments before last Sunday’s game.
“What I’ll tell you is that the decision was made from the leadership of this organization, what to do as a team on Sunday, and I respect the leadership,” offered Decker.
Team members may be respecting their coaches, but it seems as if they are not interested in what their fans and supporters think or care about.