2020 has been a whirlwind of a year with tensions and emotions seemingly running high throughout the first half, and into the second. If a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 600,000 people was not enough, civil unrest stemming from frustrations over police brutality and systemic racism decided to join in.
It has been apparent for a while now that these will be two of the defining storylines throughout the 2020 NFL season. The league has already announced a number of ways in which it intends to be an active participant in the social justice discussion, which will include on-field and on-uniform messages in support of black lives.
The central point of contention for many has been the decision over whether or not to protest by taking a knee during the pre-game rendition of the national anthem, which many players, as well as coaches, have made it abundantly clear that they intend to do this season.
Public opinion has swung significantly on this issue over the past four years since Colin Kaepernick began to kneel. At one point, the NFL attempted to bar players from kneeling through a rule change, but the NFLPA resisted, and it ultimately was never put in place. While it was never formally banned, it was implicitly discouraged, until now.
Not everybody shares the same view on this topic, however, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt let it be known that he will not kneel. Tuitt, who is a somewhat sporadic Tweeter, went on a bit of a Tweet storm yesterday afternoon to get some things off his chest and convey some messages.
That included words of advice, such as not sweating missed opportunities, ignoring public perception, and handling your own money while educating yourself about how to do so, rather than trusting in others to handle it.
“Also I’m not kneeling for the flag and screw anybody who have a problem with that”, he added. “My grandmother was a immigrant from the Carribean and age worked her ass off to bring 20 people over the right way. She had no money and educated herself to be a nurse. She living good now”.
Also I’m not kneeling for the flag and screw anybody who have a problem with that. My grandmother was a immigrant from the Carribean and age worked her ass off to bring 20 people over the right way. She had no money and educated herself to be a nurse. She living good now.
— stephon tuitt (@DOCnation_7) July 27, 2020
Tuitt’s grandmother’s story is the same as countless other immigrant stories. Often, these people end up becoming the most patriotic of all of us, having come from an impoverished or oppressed background to a country in which they were able to build themselves up and create a life for their families.
It’s everybody’s right to freely choose to stand or to kneel, and it’s also their right to let their choice be known. Tuitt is the first NFL player I’m aware of who has explicitly stated that he will not kneel, unless I suppose you count Drew Brees, who I imagine will not be kneeling.
An NFL locker room may be a band of brothers, but those brothers make up a cross-section of society, and that means a disparate collection of views and ideologies. Zach Banner showed this when he decided to publicly respond to Tuitt’s message.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion”, he began, “but do not associate this message with me, or with others who decide to kneel”. He pointed out that the police officers who fatally shot a woman in her sleep in her own home, Breonna Taylor, have not been held accountable.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion
But do not associate this message with me, or others who will decide to kneel
Because Breonna Taylor’s killers are still free
And George Floyd and Manuel Ellis’s last words were, “I CANT BREATHE!”
BLACK LIVES MATTER! https://t.co/6gMrL9l5hl
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) July 27, 2020