The largest peaceful demonstration against racism and police brutality by NFL players took place in America’s largest city on Monday night.
At least 19 New York Giants took a knee during the national anthem – more than a third of the active roster – before their team’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The impressive action would have been greeted with many boos had there been fans in the stadium, and there was much criticism on social media and New York radio airwaves.
Head coach Joe Judge, who would go on to lose his first game at the Giants’ helm, stood during the anthem while touching the shoulders kneeling Jabrill Peppers and Dalvin Tomlinson. He also stood up for his players during his postgame press conference.
Nothing was scripted in terms of who stood next to me or who I was touching,” Judge said.
“As a team, the thing that makes you special is you respect everybody’s unique background. We respected our players’ rights and choices. I’m proud of the way our team handled it in terms of sticking together and not letting anything externally divide us.”
The Steelers remained in their locker room during “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is known as the “Black National Anthem, and the Giants remained on the field. All Giants players stood for the song.
During the national anthem, the Steelers stood side by side while a group of players held a white banner with the words “Steelers Against Racism.”
While millions of eyes were on the Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones when the anthem was played before the game against the Los Angeles in $5 billion SoFi Stadium, more than a dozen Rams players knelt. Among them were All-Pro and future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
The lone Dallas Cowboy to kneel, as he said he would do, was defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Jones stood with his hand over his heart in an upper level suite.
“I had already told teammates and coaches that I was going to it,” Poe told Dallas Morning News columnist Clarence Hill.
“My teammates were telling me that they didn’t want me to do it by myself alone because we’re a team. But I had told them my mind was already made up and I felt this way. And if they didn’t, don’t do it. Don’t do it unless your heart is there like mine was. I appreciate my guys for sticking with me for being behind me.”
Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was among at least six Baltimore Ravens to kneel or sit on the bench during the anthem.
The Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Reich was the lone head coach to kneel during the national anthem, along with several of his players.
Our intent is to bring attention to the issue of systemic racism and the injustice inherit therein,” the Colts organization said in a written release.
“We also wanted to demonstrate a symbolic gesture of how we believe meaningful change happens. TO BE CLEAR — we were not protesting the flag, the anthem, or the men and women who wear the uniform.”
Apparently, millions of television viewers opted out of watching prime time games, in part, because of the protests.
Ratings were significantly down for the Thursday night season opener between the host defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans and the Sunday night game between the Cowboys and Rams.
Race, racing make headlines
Bubba Wallace, who’s disdain for the Confederate flag at raceways led NASCAR to ban them at racing sites, has announced he is leaving Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM).
Saying that he wants to join a team “that feels like family,” NASCAR’s lone black driver added that he wants to join a team that offers a car that can win races and competitive equipment.
“I came into this sport wanting to win races and be a household name on the track,” Wallace said.
Racing writer Alex Andrejev of the Miami Herald wrote that RPM “typically fields a mid-pack running car and isn’t in the championship conversation. Wallace has made it clear that he wants to be racing faster than mid-pack.”
By the way, NASCAR legend Richard Petty does not own RPM. It’s owner, Andrew Murstein, offered Wallace a contract for next year, which included a partial ownership stake.
Statistically, 2020 has been Wallace’s best season in his three years with RPM. During his three years with RPM, Wallace has recorded three top-five finishes, one in each season, and nine top-10s. It has also been a great season off the track for Wallace financially. He has signed lucrative marketing deals with Columbia Sportswear, DoorDash, Cash App, Beats by Dre and Kingsford.
Meanwhile, the man recognized as the world’s best automobile racer, Lewis Hamilton of Formula 1, notched his 90th F1 victory last Sunday in Italy. The win moves him within one win of Michael Schumacher’s all-time mark of 91. He could tie the record at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi on Sept. 27. Before the race, during his post-race interview and while on the winner’s pedestal on the raceway’s podium, Hamilton, who is English, displayed a shirt saying, ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’. Taylor was killed by Louisville Police while sleeping in her home six months ago. F1 chose not to fine Hamilton for “a political message,” but he said it would not have mattered. “I want you to know that I won’t stop,” Hamilton wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “I won’t let up. I won’t give up on using this platform to shed light on what I believe is right. “This is a journey for all of us to come together and challenge the world on every level of injustice, not only racial. We can help make this a better place for our kids and the future generations.”
The Reid Roundup
The Minnesota Vikings had members of George Floyd’s family as guests at for the season-opening game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium…The Atlanta Falcons had the late Congressman and Civil Rights Movement icon John Lewis as an honorary team captain on Sunday…Eric Reid, who like Colin Kaepernick has faced a backlash from NFL owners since he knelt with his teammate during the national anthem in 2017, said it is “diabolical” that the NFL is using images of Kaepernick kneeling in promotional ads…Kaepernick called the NFL’s social justice initiative “propaganda” on Sunday night…Kansas City had about 12,000 fans in Arrowhead Stadium, and some chose to boo when the two teams linked arms in unity before the opening kickoff…When Rams owner Stan Kroenke took his team to L.A., FORBES had it listed as one of two NFL franchises worth less than $1 billion. It is now worth an estimated $4 billion, trailing only the Cowboys ($5.7 billion), New England Patriots ($4.4 billion) and New York Giants ($4.3 billion) in value according to the magazine’s 2020 ratings.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is #aareid1