Startling that four Miami Dolphins chose to kneel during the national anthem at the season opener in Seattle. Pleased that most of them stood, however. That’s the kind of unity that America showed and felt after 9/11 but it shouldn’t take a special occasion for every citizen to agree on the following.
Our country is not perfect in every way. Never has been and never will be. There is a system in place, however, to protect everyone from abuses and it is the best one in the world. Improving on it is a shared responsibility, and that includes holding accountable authorities that can’t be trusted to play their proper role.
Arian Foster, a new Dolphin and a player who never has been afraid to be provocative, put himself out there by kneeling while the anthem was performed at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. Same goes for Kenny Stills, Jelani Jenkins and Michael Thomas, players who have been with the team longer and were willing to risk the bond they have with fans. Couldn’t immediately tell from the press box if there were others joining them but there didn’t appear to be.
Apparently they want people talking about the issue of police violence toward minorities, and apparently Chiefs corner Marcus Peters had the same motivation in raising his fist during the anthem in an earlier Sunday game at Kansas City. After the game will come the opportunity to verify the reasons.
For one player to make such a decision, whether he is a San Francisco quarterback or a Dolphins running back or a Chiefs defensive back or anyone else, is accepting the consequences that come with it, and there will be consequences, beginning with many Dolphins fans so disgusted that a couple of touchdown runs or a game-changing interception return won’t soon calm them down.
Asking teammates to join in it calls on other players to pledge allegiance to the concept of team bonding more than anything else. It’s a mixed message, particularly when other players have different experiences and differing views about the greatness of America and the people who put their lives on the line to protect it.
So again, it’s a relief that the Dolphins as a whole didn’t blow this. Fans who are angry about what Colin Kaepernick has started may soften one day, just as most did about Muhammad Ali’s draft dodging, but the constant in this is a shared belief that America is as good as it gets and disrespecting the flag diminishes the sacrifices that have kept it waving all these years.
The Seattle Seahawks’ decision to stand with arms interlocked during the anthem, most people can live with that because they stood. That is no small distinction.
The response of the four protesting Dolphins, on the other hand, gave the impression that America is so far out of whack that it does not deserve to be honored, even symbolically.
That is so different, and on 9/11, it’s so damaging to anything that the players involved mean to represent.