NFL Protests: League Came Together for a Powerful Day

Denver Broncos kneel in protest during the national anthem before their game against the Buffalo Bills. (Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig, USA TODAY Sports)

by  via usatoday.com

Empty sidelines in Nashville and Chicago. Jacksonville owner Shad Khan standing arm in arm with his players. The Miami Dolphins wearing “I’m With Kap” T-shirts during warm-ups. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis eloquently explaining his change of heart about players protesting during the national anthem. The NFL had one of its finest moments before the games even began Sunday, coming together from every corner – players, coaches, owners and league office – in forceful rebuke of the latest torrent of hate from President Donald Trump.

Whether black, white or brown, on bended knee or with locked arms, the NFL’s rare show of unity was both a dignified condemnation of the wrongs we still must right and a reminder that, for all of our differences, America remains our common ground. “Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire,” Davis said in a statement. “… Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers.“That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.”

Be it Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King or Magic Johnson, sports has long been the prism through which we see society. And fondly as we regard those trailblazers now, that wasn’t always the case. Changing hearts and minds, getting people to shed their stereotypes and ignorance, took sacrifice, anger and, yes, even protest.

In that way, the NFL’s league-wide show of unity was merely the latest in a long history of sports and activism being intertwined. It wasn’t even particularly radical when measured against the outspokenness and activism by current NBA players and coaches.

But what made Sunday so stunning was how out of character it was, a seismic shift for a league that has been loath to allow any kind of individuality or personal expression. The NFL barely tolerates touchdown celebrations, let alone a call to acknowledge the pervasive racism that marginalizes a good portion of our country.

Maybe that’s what Trump was counting on with his remarks Friday — and again Saturday and Sunday — that were as ignorant as they were inflammatory, yet more racist dog whistles for his base. Perhaps he figured the league that has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick would let his thinly veiled bigotry pass in uncomfortable silence.

But the NFL showed Sunday that Trump has badly overplayed his hand.

“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country,” the Seattle Seahawks said in a statement announcing that the team would stay in the locker room during the national anthem.

Even in a league where blinders might as well be part of the uniform, it was not lost on anyone that Trump found a way to defend Nazi protesters yet called Kaepernick and anyone else who protested during the national anthem a “son of a (expletive).” Ditto for his history of calling out and criticizing people of color while letting egregious behavior by whites go unchallenged.

The demonstrations by Kaepernick and the other players who have joined in are not about the national anthem or the military or the flag. They never have been. They are about the racism that continues to be pervasive in our society, manifesting itself in police brutality, economic inequality and disparity in education and opportunity.

No one is naïve enough to assume the NFL will now be the standard bearer in this latest fight for civil rights; moving as all the demonstrations were, it did not go unnoticed that the theme was “unity” rather than inequality, and that very few white players took a knee.

To read full article, go to: NFL protests: League came together for a powerful day

Colin Kaepernick Pledges $25K Toward Efforts to Keep DACA

Pro Football QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick (photo via theundefeated.com)

via eurweb.com

Colin Kaepernick has pledged $25,000 toward aid for immigrant youth and efforts to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place. The news comes in the wake of Donald Trump’s announced end of DACA, leaving the fate of some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children up to Congress.

Kaepernick, who remains a free agent for the NFL, has been at the center of political controversy since his decision to take a knee last year during the National Anthem in protest of racism and police brutality. Additionally the former quarterback had pledged to donate $1 million toward efforts to help communities affected by systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality.

Kaepernick announced that a quarter of the $100,000 he donates to that end each month (for 10 months) will go toward children of immigrant backgrounds who are being affected by Trump’s planned repeal of DACA. In partnership with United We Dream – the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the U.S. – he will contribute a percentage of the amount to the following areas:

• Addressing the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth. Over 100,000 members. Current focus: Organize and work for immigrant children to keep DACA in force.

• $10,000 for upcoming travel. Air, hotel, lodging, and ground transportation. United We Dream recently held event in Washington DC and sent 300 dreamers to lobby to keep DACA. This budget will pay for 75-100 attendees for a similar rally upcoming.

• $10,000 for series of upcoming local gatherings in NY, CT, TX, FL, NM. Facilities rent and security, transportation, food, technology

• $5,000 for text service for the network of over 100,000 members.

Source: Colin Kaepernick Pledges $25K Toward Efforts to Keep DACA | EURweb

MLB Legend Hank Aaron Defends NFL QB Colin Kaepernick: ‘He’s Getting a Raw Deal’

Hank Aaron (l); Colin Kaepernick (r) [via nydailynews.com]

by  via ftw.usatoday.com

Halfway through the NFL preseason schedule, Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed. Despite teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins recently shopping for another quarterback to add to their rosters, no one has elected to sign Kaepernick. A variety of sports figures have expressed their disappointment in NFL teams appearing to blackball the 29-year-old – from Mark Cuban to Dick Vitale to Johnny Manziel.

Add 83-year-old MLB legend Hank Aaron to the long list of Kaepernick supporters. During an interview with journalist Roland Martin posted to YouTube, Aaron said:

“I think he’s getting a raw deal. I’ve been watching pro ball for a long time, and I think that if you look at all the quarterbacks in the league right now, I think you have to say he is one, two, three, four. I don’t think anybody can do the things that he (does). So I just wish somebody would open up and give him a chance to do his thing and say, ‘Hey, he’s entitled to whatever he did, and let’s forget about it.’”

Last season while playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick sat and kneeled during the national anthem, protesting racial injustice and oppression. Although Kaepernick isn’t on a roster, several players have demonstrated during the national anthem in their own ways during the preseason, including Michael Bennett, Derek Carr, Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long.

When Martin asked Aaron if he wanted to see more NFL players stand with Kaepernick and his message, Aaron said:“I’d love to see some other players stand with him. I would love that. I think it would give him some incentive. I think it would help him. I think the thing that bothers me about this whole situation is the fact that he has gone to all these camps, I suppose, and nobody seems to think he stands a chance of being No. 1. Here’s a man, a young player that almost carried a team to a championship – to the Super Bowl. I remember that.”

Aaron also said he believes Kaepernick remaining unsigned is a decision made by team owners, rather than general managers. To see full video of Aaron’s remarks, watch  below:

To read original article, go to: Hank Aaron defends Colin Kaepernick: ‘Give him a chance’ | For The Win

NFL’s Michael Bennett said a White Player Needed to Kneel During the Anthem – Seth DeValve Listened

(photo via ftw.usatoday.com)

by Andrew Joseph via ftw.usatoday.com

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett sat for the national anthem during the Seahawks’ first two preseason games — something he says he’ll continue to do for the regular season — and he said that it would take a white player joining the national anthem protests to really change the conversation.

On Monday, Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve listened.

DeValve (No. 87, above) joined teammates Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, running backs Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis, safety Jabrill Peppers and cornerback Jamar Taylor in taking a knee for the anthem before a preseason game against the Giants. DeValve is the first white player to kneel for the anthem since Colin Kaepernick started his protest last season.

While Kaepernick remains without a team, Bennett and many other NFL players have continued that protest. On Wednesday, Bennett said that it would take a white player kneeling to amplify the conversation about social injustice in the U.S.

Bennett said via ESPN:

“It would take a white player to really get things changed because when somebody from the other side understands and they step up and they speak up about it … it would change the whole conversation. Because when you bring somebody who doesn’t have to be a part of [the] conversation making himself vulnerable in front of it, I think when that happens, things will really take a jump.”

In recent weeks, Chris Long and Derek Carr were among white NFL players who gestured support to teammates by placing their hand on a teammate’s shoulder while standing. DeValve is a second-year tight end from Princeton. He’s made past community outreach trips to Mexico and was the team’s religious leader at Princeton.

After the game, DeValve spoke about his decision to kneel.

Source: Michael Bennett said a white player needed to kneel during the anthem. Seth DeValve listened. | For The Win

Marshawn Lynch Sits During National Anthem in Raiders Pre-season Game

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) sits during the national anthem prior to the team’s NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

by Jeremy Woo via si.com

Oakland Raiders player Marshawn Lynch appeared to stage a silent protest before Oakland’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, taking a seat during the playing of the national anthem. AP photographers snapped Lynch taking a seat on a cooler on the sidelines as the anthem played.

Lynch’s apparent protest comes in wake of this weekend’s violent white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Va. and falls in line with what Colin Kaepernick started around the NFL last season as players found ways to protest racism and police brutality during the playing of the anthem before games.In Charlottesville, white nationalists with torches marched, chanted racial slurs and attacked counter-protestors in Charlottesville on Friday and Saturday.  The situation escalated and resulted in one person’s death and 19 injured after a car driven by an angry member of a white nationalist group plowed over another group of counter-protestors.

LeBron James is chief among a number of other athletes who have spoken up against the violent, racist rhetoric on display. Lynch came out of a one-year retirement to join his hometown Raiders this season. He is expected to play a major role for the team this year.

To read more, go to: Marshawn Lynch sits during national anthem in Raiders preseason | SI.com

Outstanding 17 Year-Old High School Student Jahmir Smith Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships

Jahmir Smith (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Zahara Hall via huffpost.com

As a kid, high school junior Jahmir Smith never had a dream college. But for a number of universities, he’s their dream student. The 17-year-old North Carolina native has already been accepted into all eight Ivy League schools and has received 33 full-ride scholarship offers, according to ABC 11 Eyewitness News.

While Smith has a 4.43 GPA at Lee County High School and an impressive ACT score, as well as enough credits to graduate a year early, The News & Observer reported that he’s also constantly being contacted by college football recruiters for his athleticism, receiving hundreds of texts from Division I coaches. Smith, who started playing football in middle school, has a composite three-star rating out of five on the sports website 247sports.com.

Additionally, he was chosen as 2016’s News & Observer’s Metro Football pick after scoring 41 touchdowns and running 2,130 yards in one season. Smith told HuffPost that while he doesn’t plan on making a career out of football, he’s certainly willing to give the NFL a shot. “It’s fast money,” he said. “But I don’t want it as a career because it would take a toll on my body.”

He added that if he doesn’t make the NFL, he wants to explore the medical field, specifically anesthesiology. In whatever he pursues, Smith is aware he’ll face challenges because of his race. But that’s not stopping him in the least bit. “I know the odds are against me because of my skin tone and all, but I don’t really let it get to me,” he said. “I just stay to myself and try to help those around me. I’ve always understood since I was little that people would see me different.”

To read more, go to: Outstanding High School Junior Already Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships | HuffPost

Ex-NFL Player and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle Chosen for Harvard Neurosurgery Residency 

Myron Rolle (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

article by Michael David Smith via nbcsports.com

Myron Rolle’s NFL career didn’t last long, but he always made clear that he had higher priorities than playing football, and he’s just taken a major step in his real calling. Rolle, a 2010 sixth-round pick of the Titans who also spent time with the Steelers, has been chosen for a neurosurgery residency at Harvard after he completes his education at the Florida State University College of Medicine this spring.

(Getty Images)

“Seven years of neurosurgery is a big deal, something I wanted for a long time, really excited about it. Today is just great, it’s remarkable,” Rolle told WCTV. Rolle was a star player at Florida State who once arrived late to a game because he had an interview for a Rhodes Scholarship.

He spent a year studying at Oxford between the end of his Florida State career and the start of his NFL career, and although he spent a couple years in the NFL, his primary goal was to become a doctor.“Saving lives and helping people live a better life,” Rolle said, “that’s going to make life worth living.”

Source: Ex-NFL player Myron Rolle chosen for Harvard neurosurgery residency | ProFootballTalk