One group of fans who won’t be sitting at home and watching the NFL: the players. As the League continues to look into the complaints of fans who, as a group, dislike the kneeling protests by players, a few stars have spoken up.
Last year, Mia Hamm got a roaring cheer when she took the field wearing her bib, wishing New York Giants fans a “Happy Lax Day.” (You’d think a bib would’ve been enough for most sports.)
Fellow ESPNW contributorJess Carter and Magdalena Eriksson, who stars in the new Amazon Prime series “The Romanoffs,” added their voices to the chorus. Carter broke down why taking a knee is not simply a “gimmick” on the sidelines. Here are Carter’s thoughts in full:
“Well, there are different ways to approach this from different perspectives. It’s an ongoing conversation on what’s going on with this division.
“I want you to be a patient, progressive, compassionate person. You might not agree with the quarterback for the New York Giants, or the Chiefs, or the Cleveland Browns or anyone, but they’re playing a football game. There’s nothing else to be found in the intersection of sports and politics. Sports is about social issues. That’s how it’s always been. As much as people want to wrap their arms around one issue and say, ‘That’s all we have to talk about,’ that’s all there is.
“It’s our job as individuals and as a team to figure out what it is that we believe in, what it is that we feel passionately about. And then when it comes to things like uniform colors and whatever uniform you’re playing in, something that you don’t wear all the time that represents you, there’s a different approach.
“Well, if you’re like, ‘How come I don’t care about anything that I don’t wear all the time, because I don’t see a difference between football and my clothing?’ Well, I do see a difference. It’s not a coincidence that I wore my uniform for a (Disney) Music Theatre project once in my life. It’s about not being reactive, but being a leader. It’s about not just saying something, but doing something.
“So right now, the conversation around Colin Kaepernick and the first round of social media outrage has really put people in a space where they don’t know how to react. I think once people get to know someone, I think we all have an empathy and understanding of people’s point of view.
“Colin Kaepernick and some other guys I think actually get it. Like, I thought I was going to hate Colin Kaepernick — like everyone else, I was sure he was giving a bunch of money away to charity and had a gorgeous wife and I hated him. But what I know about him and what I’ve heard about him and seen him play is that he knows what’s important. He’s a leader. He came out on a Sunday. He told his team he was going to stand for the national anthem. He never bailed on them. It takes a lot of courage to tell your team you’re going to do something like that.
“And it wasn’t to be defiant. He was like, ‘This is important to me, I’m going to do it because I care about people who don’t have access to the same resources as everyone else.’ And what I see in Colin Kaepernick is someone who’s learning from his mistakes.
“He’s learning and growing. And I admire his courage in standing up for what he believes in, because this is a real issue. To say this is the epitome of human rights and then to turn your back on the person suffering from that injustice is not what I want to say to people. I’d like to embrace the idea that you should be able to separate between what you’re wearing, your personal opinions, and your action.
“That’s a work in progress, and that’s something we can all aspire to.”