NFL officials plan to meet next week to discuss national anthem policy, which may result in forcing NFL players to stand during the national anthem, instead of simply suggesting they do.
Rishard Matthews, a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans, said he will quit playing football if the NFL institutes a rule forcing players to stand during the national anthem. Matthews was asked by a local reporter if he will continue to stay in the locker room and face fines or penalties if the league mandates players stand for the national anthem. “No, I will be done playing football,” he said, in a now-deleted tweet, according to The Daily Caller.
Matthews made the statement on Thursday afternoon before practice, but the wide receiver was not available to meet with reporters during locker room availability.
In a joint statement released Wednesday, the NFL Players Association and the NFL said that the league’s policy does not require players to stand during the national anthem. The policy, which has not been changed at this point, recommends that players stand for the anthem but does not require it.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, as well as veteran players, plan to meet next week to discuss public relations and national anthem policy.
Rishard Matthews says his father served for 23 years in the Marine Corps. Matthews’ brother also served in the Marine Corps and perished while stationed in Afghanistan two years ago.
Matthews explained that he did not originally participate in the national anthem protests, started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, out of respect for his brother. However, after President Trump insulted Colin Kaepernick at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama, he felt compelled to participate.
Immediately following President Trump’s controversial statement, the entire Titans line-up hid in the locker room during the national anthem before their game against Seattle. While the rest of the team returned to the field and stood for the national anthem for the following games, Matthews remained in the locker room alone.
“Moving forward, I don’t want this to be a publicity stunt,” Matthews said in September. “I don’t want to take away from what the whole protest is about, which is oppression, police brutality and inequality in this country. I fully stand with my brother Kap, and I plan to continue to do that.”
Rishard Matthews, a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans, said he will quit playing football if the NFL institutes a rule forcing players to stand during the national anthem. Is this the end of pro football?
“I’m tired of hearing, ‘Stick to sports.’ It comes down to right and wrong in this world,” Matthews continued. “If you see wrong and don’t say anything, that’s wrong. As minorities, what do you want to happen before we say anything? They tried to have a silent protest, and look what happened. It’s your right to stand or sit down. You have that right, that freedom of speech, and you’re not allowing that to happen.”
Matthews is currently in the second year of his three-year, $15 million contract.
If Matthews resigns in the wake of a rules change, he would be the first NFL protester to truly put his money where his mouth is.