A year ago this week, I wrote a column about Colin Kaepernick and speculated on whether any Bills might protest during the anthem that week.
“I think by the end of the season, every team will be doing it,” said former Bills defensive tackle Corbin Bryant.
No Bill made any overtly political gestures that week, or later in the season. The issue faded as the year went on. But with Kaepernick unemployed, it regained steam this season. And when President Trump inflamed the NFL by suggesting players be fired for taking a knee, the Bills players finally took a stand.
LeSean McCoy who had ripped Trump on Twitter and called him a curse word on Saturday, took a knee during the anthem and later got up and began stretching, then turned his back. There were about six Bills who knelt by unofficial counts of the media, including Jordan Matthews and Ryan Davis.
Trump brought the controversy to a new level when he said during a speech in Alabama that NFL owners should fire any players who don't stand for the anthem and called the players "sons of bitches." He also suggested that fans should boycott the games.
In the early game in London, several players from both the Jaguars and Ravens knelt and locked arms during the anthem. Jags owner Shahid Khan, the NFL's only Muslim owner, locked arms with his players before the game.
The Steelers didn't plan to emerge from the locker room until after the national anthem at Soldier Field in Chicago.
“We’re not going to play politics,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told CBS. “We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from this circumstance."
I'm not supposed to play politics, either. Readers often chide me for injecting politics into my columns. But I'm entitled to an opinion and applaud the NFL players who have the guts to take a stand on the issue.
And it's a national shame and an outrage to have a President who would make divisive, dumb and cavalier comments on serious racial issues. Trump could at least show black NFL players the benefit of the doubt he extended to white supremacists in Charlottesville.