As Bill wrote here on Tuesday, L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters that he would support it if his players wanted to make any demonstrations next season, similar to the kneeling movement that was started by Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
McVay also said that he wished he had been asking questions about race and learning about these issues earlier.
McVay said he would support players if they want to demonstrate on the field. Asked if he would support signing Colin Kaepernick if the #Rams need a backup QB, the coach said the team would make a decision like that based on football factors. 2/5— Kevin Modesti (@KevinModesti) June 2, 2020
After Sean McVay’s opening statement (full below), he added that he wished he had been asking questions about race and systemic oppression sooner. Hearing players’ own experiences and feeling the grief of some has caused him to self-evaluate how he can continue the conversation. pic.twitter.com/LQ5tYB8gFo— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) June 2, 2020
As protests and demonstrations continue throughout the country in response to the death of African American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis and many others, on-field shows of support and racial awareness are looking like an inevitability rather than a possibility.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been the subject of much discussion in the last 24 hours after telling Yahoo Finance that he’ll always disagree with “anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” referencing Kaepernick’s 2016 demonstration and subsequent players who followed his lead that year. Brees apologized on Thursday, calling his own remarks “insensitive.”
However, if no fans are in the stadium for games next season, will teams be regularly showing the national anthem on TV? If players protest, will they point the cameras elsewhere? And if they don’t show anything like that on TV, where do players turn to next?
The Rams had previously been a part of a demonstration in 2014, when Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Chris Givens, Stedman Bailey, and Tavon Austin came out for a game with a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In 2017, McVay “insisted” that defensive end Robert Quinn stand for the national anthem, but coordinated with Quinn on raising a fist instead and said that he wanted to allow players to be able to express themselves.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for what the national anthem represents for our country but everybody has their own reasons or certain beliefs,” McVay said. “I think you want to be respectful and mindful of that but I think we want to allow guys to express themselves in whatever way they see fit.
“And Robert’s a guy that’s well thought through. As long as it’s respectful then I think everybody’s entitled to handle it the way they want to.”
The Rams open the preseason on August 14 at 7 PM in SoFi Stadium, assuming all goes to the NFL’s plan, with or without fans in the seats. They’re hosting Drew Brees and the Saints.