“One executive said he hasn’t seen this much collective dislike among front office members regarding a player since Rae Carruth.”

This is a reflection of everything that is wrong with this country, not just the NFL. They are drawing a comparison between a man taking contention with what he sees as social injustice and a man who hired a hitman to kill his pregnant girlfriend.

In the past decade, the NFL has kept numerous players guilty of domestic and sexual abuse employed. They’ve invited back a player who tortured, abused and killed dogs, all while profiting off of it. There have been endless sexual assault claims, and even a player who killed a man while driving drunk, that didn’t result in a loss of a job.

But a man dissents, and he is reviled. Dissent, mind you, that mirrors the very temperament that resulted in the forming of this country. Dissent that has rippled through its entire history.

But he is the hated one.

A man guilty of rape is getting out of jail three months early on a six months sentence for “good behavior.” A 13 year old was shot within 5 seconds of police arriving at a park (by an officer previously found to be “an emotionally unstable recruit and unfit for duty.”) A 16 year old boy, driving a truck he stole from his father, with beer he stole from a store, and inebriated 3x the legal limit, killed 4 people and was only given probation. African-American men are disproportionately prosecuted and sentenced, and have been for decades. Communities riddled with poverty are cast aside and refused the resources higher income communities get with ease. Gay citizens, in many states, can still be fired simply because they are gay. Girls are still encouraged to dress in a way that won’t tempt boys, putting the onus on them not to be the victim of someone else’s decisions. Life-saving medicine can be priced astronomically, serving only to pad the wallets of CEOs. The productivity of the working classes is higher than it’s ever been, but wages have stagnated for almost 20 years.

But tell me again that a man who sees all this and more and decides to act — no matter how minimal that act may seem — is as big a villain as a murderer.

I, for one, will always stand for the National Anthem. Not for absolute pride in this country, mind you. There are more flaws than there are stars, and more problems than there are stripes. But I will stand in the hope of what that country is supposed to end up being; for what it can be.

One thing it already is, however, is a bastion for those who have something to say. So just remember this when others decide to sit:

The more you respond with anger, and not empathy, the more you retaliate with hate, and not understanding, the more you tighten your grip instead of reaching out a hand, well, the more you are pressing down on their shoulders, refusing to let them ever stand in pride again.

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