Thursday, January 18, 2018

Important myth busted about NFL players who are protesting during national anthem.

December 14, 2017 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( One of the most prestigious awards that an NFL player can earn is the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Although the Most Valuable Player or the Defensive Player of the Year awards often get more publicity, any NFL player would truly be proud to earn the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. It is an award not earned by only accumulating statistics on the playing field but by also having a tremendous impact off of the field. It was named after the late legendary Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton and each NFL team “nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community”.

Last week, the NFL announced all 32 NFL players who were nominated by their teammates on their respective teams. Interestingly, there was something noticeable about a few of the NFL players who were nominated to be the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, that will be announced on February 3rd, a number of the nominees of that prestigious award are some of the NFL players protesting during the national anthem.

There are over 1,500 NFL players and only 32 NFL players were nominated as potentially being the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. However, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett earned the nomination while protesting during the national anthem for most of this season. A narrative about why Colin Kaepernick, who started the national anthem protests last NFL season, isn’t signed to a NFL team in 2017 is that he would be a divisive and distraction in the locker room due to his protest. Clearly, there are active participants in NFL protests like Stills and Bennett who earned the nomination from their peers in the locker room while protesting during the national anthem.

Detractors of the NFL players who are protesting during the national anthem mention that NFL players should “back up” their protest with actual action to affect change. Kenny Stills of the Miami Dolphins is backing up his protest by bringing influential local leaders together in Florida with law enforcement to discuss actionable steps that could be taken to address issues of racial inequality and unite the community. Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks has had an eventful 2017 that included his publicized interaction with Las Vegas police earlier this year.

He is an outspoken and free thinking athlete who has protested with many of his Seattle Seahawks teammates during the national anthem. He earned his Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nomination by holding free camps and health clinics in Seattle, Houston, Honolulu, and South Dakota on the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. Bennett has also focused on quality educational programs in minority communities.

The NFL players who are protesting during the national anthem have become one of the most “controversial” issues in sports. The negative characterizations of the men who are protesting are often because the NFL players are taking a stand against the mistreatment and oppression of people of color. It is clear that their are not the distractions that many say they are and are making contributions to winning teams.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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