Coaches take knees behind stands after principal threatens to cancel game

Some Griffin football players took a knee, other stood for the national anthem on Tuesday. All of the coaches took a knee. (Photo: Jordan Culver/ Tallahasee Democrat)

Some Griffin football players took a knee, other stood for the national anthem on Tuesday. All of the coaches took a knee. (Photo: Jordan Culver/ Tallahasee Democrat)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —  Griffin Middle School football coach Brett Stanley continued his protest of the national anthem out of the spotlight.

Stanley, his coaches and a few of his players took a knee while the anthem played Tuesday before the team’s game against Deerlake, but it’s doubtful anyone saw the protest.

The anthem played, and the game went on. Griffin ended up winning 30-0.

Per district rules, both teams were off the field before the game at the Chiles High football stadium. Ricky Bell, who oversees athletics for the school district, said teams hold meetings in locker rooms or behind bleachers before the game.

If Stanley took his protest to the field, he would have been found insubordinate. Then, there would have been issues.

Monday, before the game, Stanley said Griffin principal Gwendolyn Thomas threatened to cancel the contest if he continued his protest.

Bell said if Stanley ended up doing something that qualified as insubordination, i.e. leaving his team behind the bleachers to protest on the field, the second-year coach could have been dismissed from the team. He said Stanley is supposed to be with his team during the anthem, and the team is supposed to be away from the field.

“We’re not saying anything is right or wrong,” Bell said after the game. “He could have taken them to the locker room. Most high school teams do that. College teams to that. That’s why we try to do that. Whatever they do in the locker room, that’s between them and their players.

MORE: Utah athlete stands for anthem day after hernia surgery

“He’s fine. I congratulated them after the game. They had a great game, they were all upbeat after the game was over. I shook everyone’s hand and said, ‘Let’s do it again next week.’”

Griffin Middle School assistant coach Antwoine Smith takes a knee during the national anthem before the team’s game against Deerlake. (Photo: Jordan Culver/Democrat)

Griffin Middle School assistant coach Antwoine Smith takes a knee during the national anthem before the team’s game against Deerlake. (Photo: Jordan Culver/Tallahassee Democrat)

The insubordination would stem from Stanley leaving his players unsupervised, not from the protest, Bell said.

Bell added another coach could have stepped up to lead the team if Stanley were let go prior to the teams taking the field. The game didn’t have to be canceled if Stanley stepped out of bounds to continue his protest.

“At this point, I don’t want to take away from the kids,” Stanley said before the game. “But I don’t want to give up my rights, you know. She said I’d have to go behind the stands if we’re going to protest.”

Stanley is not the first athletic figured in Tallahassee to join the national protest, which was sparked by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Last week, FSU volleyball Mara Green knelt before the Seminoles’ game against Florida, saying she was, “unhappy with the racial tension, racial injustice and police brutality in our country.”

“At the end of the day, my job is to coach and mentor these kids to be the best they can be,” Stanley said. “I want them to be successful on and off the field.”

Bell said in his mind, the game went smoothly.

“All’s well that ends well,” Bell said.


Griffin Middle School football coach Brett Stanley is in a tough position.

He wants to exercise his right to protest. He did so last week. Before Griffin’s game against Raa Middle School, Stanley said he and a few players took a knee during the national anthem.

Stanley said it could cost him if he does it again Tuesday night. In an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, he said school principal, Gwendolyn Thomas, said she will cancel Tuesday’s game against Deerlake if he kneels again.

“At this point, I don’t want to take away from the kids,” Stanley said. “But I don’t want to give up my rights, you know. She said I’d have to go behind the stands if we’re going to protest. We’re planning on playing tonight. We know there’s going to be a lot of people there to see what’s going to happen. I’m not sure if we’re going to take a knee yet. I haven’t talked to the coaching staff.”

Hours later, the coaches and several players took a knee behind the stands as the anthem played. Other players stood with their hands on their heart. The game went on as scheduled.

Stanley, in his second year at Griffin, said he thinks the district is responsible for the pressure to stand during the anthem, not Thomas herself. After last Tuesday’s protest, Stanley said he had to cancel football practice — something he’s never done before — to have a meeting with Thomas about the protest.

“She said she just wanted to talk to us, but you can talk to us outside of practice hours,” he said.

Thomas could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ricky Bell, who oversees athletics for Leon County Schools, said he had a conversation with Thomas. She said she wanted to give coaches an opportunity to meet with their players before games. The team meeting would be in the locker room, away from the field.

“If he wanted to take a knee then, that would be fine,” Bell said.

Bell added it’s highly unlikely Stanely and his players would be out of the locker room for the national anthem anyway. Stanley is supposed to be with his team, and his team is supposed to be away from the field. If Stanley were to come out of the locker room just to protest the anthem, he would be found insubordinate.

MORE: Florida district says students need parental permission to kneel

The insubordination would stem from Stanley leaving his players unsupervised, not from the protest, Bell said. He added if Stanley is found insubordinate, he could be dismissed. That doesn’t necessarily mean the game would be canceled — someone else could coach the team if Stanley were let go.

Stanley is not the first athletic figured in Tallahassee to join the national protest, which was sparked by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Last week, FSU volleyball Mara Green knelt before FSU’s game against Florida, saying she was, “unhappy with the racial tension, racial injustice and police brutality in our country.”

“My preparation from last Tuesday up until today has been about football,” Stanley said. “At the end of the day, my job is to coach and mentor these kids to be the best they can be. I want them to be successful on and off the field. I’m assuming there are going to be a lot of people there just to see if we take the knee. I assume if we take the knee, they’ll cancel the game right then and there.”


Ignorance of the Bill of Rights is rampant in media and print journalism.

This author demonstrates that he too is quite ignorant of the BoR. He mocks veterans by trying to point out that veterans who disparage Kraperdick are hypocrites. Using the author's logic, however, the veterans were simply exercising their "free speech rights".

But this is the fallacy that this author doesn't understand. He just doesn't get it. You see, Colin Krapernick is an employee of a PRIVATE ENTERPRISE. When he sat and then knelt durimg the national anthem, he was doing it by the grace of his employer, the San Francisco 49ers, who work under the Code of Conduct guidelines of the NFL. We have been led to believe that the NFL has a guideline that "encourages players to stand during the national anthem, but they may sit or kneel if desired".

You see, being a comstitutional scholar, I can tell you with certainty that the Bill of Rights (BoR) applies between an individual and his government. The BoR is IMMATERIAL in the private employer-employee context. Private employers do not offer democracies or republics to their employees, they rule the roost and can fire you for any reason whatsoever as long as they do not discriminate based on race, national origin, sexual orientation, and other factors having NOTHING TO DO WITH FREE SPEACH.

If, for example, the employer's Code of Conduct stipulated that "Players must stand for the National Anthem", then they would be required to do it or face termination.

So it is by the grace of their employer's that NFL players are able to express their disdain for America, their disdain for the flag, the disdain for what it represents.

Please note that the NFL guidelines work in one philisophical direction only. Those who use this phony free speech context to express support for police and America, like the Titans and the Cowboys, who wanted to honor 911 victims and the police respectively by wearing decals expressing support were chastized by NFL brass. They pointed to the dress code, but of course they did not use the dress code excuse when Kraperdick wore Pig socks.

So, under the reuse of "free speech", the NFL, and the media! are giving Colin Kraperdick a stage to express a political opinion, and a personal opinion, which is based on lies, and is unsubstantiated based on the facts on the ground. Nobody is oppressed in America, 70% of NFL players are black, most police shootings are justified, more whites are shot by police than blacks, and there are more black shooting deaths by other blacks each weekend in major American cities than anywhere else in the world.

Just look at the FBI's own statistics:

Black males aged 15-34 are only 3% of the total US population. According to

2012 FBI crime statistics, this 3% is responsible for:

– 54.9% of all robberies;

– 49.4% of all murders;

– 34.1% of all aggravated assaults;

– 32.5% of all forcible rapes.

So, 3 % of the population of the US is responsible for almost half of all crime in the US.

Almost 12% of White/Hispanic Homicides are by police. ONLY 4% of Black Homicide is by Police. So based on the far higher crime rate of Blacks they are actually shot FAR FAR less.

And you wonder why cops are on edge when dealing with segment of society?

2015 Crime stats:

Blacks killed by whites 2%

Blacks killed by police 1%

Whites killed by police 3%

Whites killed by Whites 16%

Whites killed by blacks 81%

Blacks killed by Blacks 97%

So, what has Kraperdick started? He has started a non-free speech campaign, with his employer's blessing, to piss off 95% of patriotic Americans of any ethnic or racial stripe.

Imagine that you are able to go into work one day and shout, "America oppresses me and my people", or when everyone goes to the auditorium to hear a talk by the VP of Engineerimg, you refuse to stand and clap as the VP walks in, you are in the front row, and everyone else is standing. Imagine you comtinue to express your political view points over and over again, until a majority of your coworkers are so angry with you that productivity suffers.

How long do you think your employer will tolerate your "free speech rights"? I can assure you, not for very long.

Kraperdick is an employee in a private enterprise, and is doing basically the same thing. He is pissing us all off simply because his employer is allowimg it, not because he has free speech in his employee-employer relationship. Sooner or later, enough of we customers will be so angry that we will stop watching and buying, team productivity will suffer, players will lose sponsers, and the NFL will be in full blown panic. That doesn't seem likely RIGHT NOW, but the NFL and its teams will eventually realize that the free speech reuse does not apply, and that the fans are on to it.

I lost two brothers in the wars, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. In Afghan, my brother was clearing an IED mine field, wearing the American flag on his combat fatigues, and the convoy he was clearimg the way for was carryinf food and clothing for local Afghani effected by the war. These are PEOPLE OF COLOR. The convoy proudly carried a large American flag.

Well, and IED to my brother to heaven.

In Iraq, my other brother left cover to rescue a fallen soldier. An ISIS sniper sent him to God as well. He was wearing the American flag.

When my mother saw Kraperdick knealing during the anthem, she cried for 30minutes and has sworn that she will NEVER watch another NFL game. She said if it spreads to college, high school, and other leagues, she will NEVER watch football again.

There are millions of people like my mother, life long football fans, but now angered by selfish millionaires, who never did a thing for their country. Their actions are not brave, she said, my sons were brave.

She worries so much about me, a special forces soldier, who has been on several deployments, and will be on more. Losing a third son would end her life.

In the past two days, two police in Fort Worth, and a policewoman in Philadelphia have been attacked by persons who hate cops. In NJ, a bomb was planted and exploded along a military parade route. Don't think for one moment that these acts were not inspired by Kraperdick and the NFL. After all, who in America has an employer that allows an employee to wear "Pig Socks"?

The proper response to this author and to Kraperdick and the NFL is to boycott all things NFL, including season tickets, DirecTV NFL Tkt, ESPN, merchandise, and sponsers of the teams and the NFL. That of course is free speech in the true sense of the word,,since our BoRs allows citizens to exercise their free will when considering to support sports teams. We are acting as citizens, not as employees of private enterprises.

But I doubt the author will understand that, and I doubt the NFL will learn it's lesson until it is too late.


Nice stats. Now do the research behind those numbers and if, which I doubt, you are open minded you will see WHY and WHEN those numbers came about.

Numbers don't lie in one aspect but the person and how they present them ARE.

After all some of this has already been admitted to, but it gets snuck out under the radar of white controlled media so you don't realize that the entire criminal numbers were flipped when it come to black crime versus white crime. Lol

Oh yes. Whites use to make up 90+% but that went under when they made prison legalized slavery. Read your constitution and amendments and the timing of changes to them and the timing of when the numbers suddenly.. and I mean abruptly flipped over.

The only offense Colin brings is the attention to how hypocritical many if not most white Americans are.


You people suck. You can't force people to stand for the national anthem. As a veteran, I am appalled at the way people take away the rights of others that I served for them to have simply because they are personally offended. This is NOT North Korea where flag worship is mandatory!

Does forcing someone to stand ( by threatening their job) make you feel more American? It shouldn't. It should make you feel like a bully. How has anyone kneeling for the anthem effected any of your lives in a negative manner?

Oh, it hasn't? It hasn't made you lose money? You didn't get demoted? You didn't lose your house? Car not get repossessed? Oh, I get it, it just made you mad, so you throw a temper tantrum and force or try to shame people to bow to your will. Very American of you. What you are doing is disrespectful to those who fought for the rights of EVERY American, not just the ones who agree to do things in a manner you think they should.


Plain Trurth
Plain Trurth

@JohnBolton Protests should be done on your own private time and in your own clothing not on your employers time or their uniform which represents them or my time which I paid for: Do you get it now Sir?


I'm a SEAL. I lost two brothers in afghanistan and iraq, both wearing the flag as they battled the Taliban and ISIS scumbags.

Let's get this straight, at least as far as the NFL is concerned, there is not constitutional right to protest them anthem. Players are employees in a private enterprise, and it is only by the grace of their employer, NFL teams, that they are getting away with it. If the team management told them to stop or be fired, they would stop, just as your employer would not hesitate to fire you if you acted in a way that they did not condone.

These kids and coaches in schools are now emulating NFL players. Just as schools ban certain types of dress, such as shirts with the US flag or a controversial political statement, they have every right to clamp down on disrespect for the flag.

Your freedom of speech applies between YOU and your government. If you are in the stands, not part of the school or team, you have every right to sit during the anthem. Once you join an organization, you live by their rules, or you leave the org.

My brothers died defending what that flag represents, and I engage the enemy now defending lady liberty. Like untold thousands of others, we despise what the spoiled, rich, NFL players are teaching our kids.

Get your rights straightened out, learn how and when the Bill of Rights applies,mand STOP disrespecting my brothers and thousands of others who fought for the greatest country on earth.


First off you know what you are saying makes no sense.

Why not focus on the ISSUE. Solve the issue and you end the protest. Simple solution, because the more America finds this acceptable EVENTUALLY it will start popping up in YOUR neighborhoods.

THEN we will have Congressional Hearings and Townhalls, etc...

So address the issue rather than the messenger if the issue. More are joining in and more will follow the more you try to restrict from us what you claim this flag stands for that you want us to stand for.


Keep in mind WE fought and sacrificed too despite KNOWING we would come home to racism.

So after all the pride filled announcements what did you fight for again? Equal Justice for all.


If that is so hard to understand then you need a check up.

The fact of the matter is YOU DO UNDERSTAND it but you PREFER this privileged life and are AFRAID to face the issue of racism.

Learn YOUR history and OURS.

The books we were taught had PLENTY of missing pages and chapters.

You want to cast your pride over a people who endured Slavery and I doubt you understand the full extent of what slavery was. I doubt it very seriously.

And it did NOT END with Lincoln's signing like historians want you to believe.


@Plain Trurth @JohnBolton  Says who? YOU? That is a very ridiculous statement. You may need to change your name because it's obvious that you don't understand *plain truth*.

1st off, they don't work FOR you. Their employer (This article is about the kids, not the NFL players anyway) doesn't have an issue with it. Even if they did, they can't FORCE your faux flag worship on them. This isn't North Korea.

I notice that you made this about YOU..."My time that I paid for". I don't know if you're talking about the kids game or NFL games. Do you go to every NFL game? I know you don't pay for the NFL games while you're sitting at home on your couch, or doing whatever WHILE the national anthem is playing, not standing with your hand over your heart. Paying for cable doesn't count. Do you go to every one of these kids games? I doubt it.

The only thing I get is that you are more upset with them kneeling instead of the reason WHY they are kneeling. Have you posted on any of your social media outlets your support for the murders of unarmed black men by police or just your outrage at the fact that someone didn't kneel for you anthem?


@allessior  There are plenty of Active Duty service members, retirees and veterans from all races and eras who support Colin Kaepernick. They are diametrically opposed to people like you who think that just because you CHOSE to serve, you get to try to force or shame others to bow to your will. The flag doesn't belong to the military. Soldiers/sailors/airmen didn't serve to represent a flag, they served to uphold the constitution of the United States of America. They flag ISN'T living up to it's ideal for millions of your fellow citizens, but you could care less about that.


So this is what the world's come to? People feel good about themselves, and think they're "taking a stand" by showing disrespect to their own country. Lame. 


And you take pride in showing honor to a flag that is looking more and more each day and each post and each objection... that stands for nothing.

Equal rights. Think about it. Our people voluntarily DIED for that flag THINKING it would bring equality for our people.

So tell me. What did anyone die for and skip the fake "not perfect" argument.

You fight more for the rights of others outside of this country. So save us the rhetoric. Thanks.