#BoycottNFL Sparks Fierce Debate About Race & Constitutional Rights

Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) kneels during the National Anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

If you thought the conversation around Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem would have died down by now, you were wrong. As the San Francisco 49ers quarterback continues to take a knee during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” more and more players have joined him.

Thursday night, Denver Broncos star Brandon Marshall also kneeled during the anthem, explaining, “I’m not against the military. I’m not against police, or America, I’m against social injustice.” Marshall’s stance—along with Eric Reid of the 49ers and Seahawks defensive star Jeremy Lane—have been met with controversy. While many support their decision to protest (including several veterans), some angry football fans decided to launch a #BoycottNFL hashtag Friday morning to express their outrage.

The prevailing thought of #BoycottNFL supporters seems to be that Kaepernick, and other players who choose to be vocal about social justice, racism, and police brutality, should either be silenced and be forced to stand during the national anthem, or kicked off the team. Why? They are millionaires (oh, and they’re Black).



On the other hand, many—including me—questioned the call for a boycott over a peaceful protest when fans continued to support the league despite several sexual assault and domestic abuse scandals.

Back in 2013, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league needed “to do some things to combat this problem” of domestic/sexual abuse. The call to action only grew louder after the tragic murder of Kasandra Perkins at the hands of her live-in boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who also took his own life.

After the horrific murder-suicide, Slate writer Justin Peters combed through the NFL’s records and uncovered a startling statistic: Of the league’s 32 teams, 21 of them had a player on the roster who had been arrested for domestic violence or sexual assault at the time.

But…let me get this straight, a peaceful protest is the problem?

Like President Obama,  Goodell affirmed Kaepernick, and other players’, rights to protest, even if he does not agree.

“I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society,” Goodell said. “On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.”

To be clear, NFL fans have a lot of issues they could boycott—on and off the field—but players taking a stand against racism and injustice isn’t one of them.


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