Some NFL players have taken to kneeling before the Anthem to bring awareness to issues they’re protesting.
According to Independent Journal Review, the New Orleans Saints caused major controversy when they demonstrated before the Anthem. They knelt during the moment of silence for a fallen officer causing fans to boo.
Sports Illustrated reports that the Saints players began participating in the protests in opposition to Trump’s comments that protesting players should be fired. Initially, they protested like many others, refusing to stand for the National Anthem, claiming in a statement that it was to “stop the divisiveness.”
Despite their claim that it was meant to show unity and “stop the divisiveness,” the protest created a divide amongst their fans, according to WWL TV. Some supported the move, and many were offended.
One fan, Richard Hofler, summarized the issue best when he said, “I believe in their right to make a statement and make a protest. I also believe that the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance stand for something significant. I have many friends in the military and I know that they stand by the flag and the flag stands for something significantly different to them than even myself.”
Seeing the backlash and divide among their fans, the Saints began looking at alternative ways to show their opposition of Trump while respecting the flag, according to Sports Illustrated. They ultimately decided on kneeling before the Anthem as a protest but rising to stand respectfully during the Anthem.
Drew Brees, the quarterback for the Saints, tweeted out the team’s intention to protest before the Anthem, “As a way to show respect to all, our #Saints team will kneel in solidarity prior to the national anthem & stand together during the anthem.”
It was a smart move — it allowed players to voice their frustrations while still showing respect for the flag and all it represents. No doubt, many of the fans were mollified by the compromise.
Yet, Sunday’s game generated newfound rage from fans, when many of the Saints players knelt during a moment of silence for a fallen police officer. The officer was Marcus McNeil, who died while on duty a few days prior. To respect the man’s service and great sacrifice, a moment of silence was held before the game. When players knelt during the moment, offended fans reacted by booing from the stands, disrupting the moment of silence.
Fans took to social media to voice their disgust, one fan, Kevin Coleman, said on Twitter, “SaintsNOW @ SaintsNOW Poor form today, taking a knee with the fallen NOLA PD officer… long time Saints fan, I expect better #BlueLivesMatter”
One Twitter user known as Storm suggested that police should boycott the NFL, “Police officers should start boycotting the NFL. Let them overpaid idiots pay for private security.”
The Saints protested a fallen police officer. Should players be allowed to protest?
It’s unclear if the protest during the moment of silence was a statement, or simply an accident. The moment of silence occurred immediately before the National Anthem when the players would normally take a knee, so it’s possible the event was an unfortunate coincidence.
In any case, the Saints will have to do a hefty amount of public relations work to avoid alienating fans who may have interpreted the protest as anti-cop, especially after they claimed their reason to protest was solely about Trump.