An interesting sidebar has presented itself in the case of Colin Kaepernick and a few other NFL players protesting the national anthem before games.
Their season openers happen to fall on Sunday, Sept. 11—-a day that, since the terrorist attacks on New York an D.C. in 2001, has become one of the most patriotic days of the year, meant to honor the nearly 3,000 people —- police, firefghters, moms, dads, people of all races and colors —- who died that day.
Will these players refuse to stand for the national anthem on that day, of all days? Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who on social media has supported Kaepernick's stance on police brutality and racial injustice, says the idea has given him pause and he's "thinking things through."
"I think that anybody should be thinking about that," Baldwin said, according to the team's official transcript. "Even if it wasn't September 11, the point of the protest is to get people to think. I think it's very ironic that 15 years ago, on September 11, it was one of the most devastating times in U.S. history, but after that day we were probably the most unified we've ever been. Today, you struggle to see the unity and it's very ironic to me that this day is coming up. It's going to be a special day, a very significant day, but at the same time I'm looking forward to making better changes in our country."
Baldwin believes that Kaepernick's message is being engulfed by the firestorm surrounding it.
"I think the point is to bring attention and awareness to your protest, to bring attention to what's going on," he said. "I think that is what the issue is here. We're missing the message in terms of what we're talking about. It's not necessarily about the messenger or the protest itself. It's about what we're pointing to. I'll just leave it at that."
Meanwhile, Baldwin's quandary about whether or not to join the protest is about to become even more difficult. Seahawks CB Jeremy Lane joined Kapernick in his protest before the team's preseason game with the Oakland Raiders last week and said he plans to continue his protest into the regular season. Then on Wednesday, another of Baldwin's teammates, LB Bobby Wagner, said if any protests take place before the opener with the Dolphins, it would involve more than just a few individuals. The entire Seahawks team will be involved.
"Anything we want to do, it's not going to be individual," Wagner told the Seattle Times. "It's going to be a team thing. That's what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals."
Wagner added that whatever the team decides to do, Kaepernick's actions have brought an important issue to the forefront.
"I support Kap and what he's doing. I think sometimes everybody takes the message wrong because there's a lot of stuff that's going on, a lot of bad stuff that's going on that needs to be fixed. At some point you have to do whatever you need to do to get that fixed. I think what he's done is opened up that conversation and made people talk about it. Whenever you have the president talking about those types of things, it's definitely getting it's message across. But I think it's a very positive message. There should be justice and equality for everybody, no matter what your skin color is, and I think that's what he's fighting for because a lot of black people don't get that."
Support or not, it would be jarring to see anyone refuse to stand on such a historic —- and sad —- day. What if the anthem was accompanied by a moment of silence for those who died? Would the players sit for that, too? While the NFL has said that a player doesn't have to stand for the anthem, the league —- from a PR standpoint —- has got to be sweating the optics of players sitting down on the anniversary of the worst terror attack ever on American soil.
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