In the wake of Donald Trump’s disparaging words several weeks back about NFL players who protest during the anthem, it was only natural that the protests would extend across the sporting world.
While many high school football coaches around the country emphasized that such protests would not be tolerated, former NFL veteran and current Glades Central (Belle Glades, Fla.) football coach Jessie Hester recently explained why he thought it within entirely his players’ rights.
Hester, a former Florida State star and 11-year NFL veteran, told South Florida CBS affiliate WPEC that he decided to proactively speak to his players about why NFL players have decided to take a knee during the national anthem.
As news of the protests has gone well beyond American borders, BBC Sport has done their own work on the issue with “On Bended Knee: An NFL Protest Special.” One of Hester’s players recently explained his own reasoning for taking a knee before a recent game.
Belle Glades junior defensive tackle Kortney Ware spoke with the BBC recently, and spelled out what the protests meant to him.
“I did it for the police brutality, man,” Ware said. “Somebody has got to speak up. I know other people are speaking up, too. Anquan Boldin, for example. This man is retired, 14 years in the league, and retired for us blacks. I’m tired seeing us black people get killed, especially young black people at that, man. So, that’s why I did it.”
In the edited clip, Ware explains his different reasons that he feels strongly about what he and others are doing to call attention to injustice.
“We have freedom of speech – First Amendment – so, I don’t get why (President Trump) said that comment. We have rights we can use. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t say we have to stand up, or do this (puts hand over heart). We don’t have to do that, so nowhere in the First Amendment says that. We look up to him, a President, right? We’re supposed to look up to him, right? He’s the leader of our country, and he talks about us like this? Man, that’s sad, that’s sad.
“Keep doing what you’re all doing, please. Please. We need us black people to speak up, everybody needs to speak up. Please.”
The protests, nor the issues players are protesting, seem to be going away anytime soon.