Earlier this week NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to the league’s owners with regards to player protests during the national anthem, with some interpreting the memo as a sign that the league would put into place a rule that would require all players to stand.
The reaction to the memo was such at the NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement, with some members of the union due to be present at next week’s owners meetings.
Players may have a decision to make in the near future regarding the act of kneeling during the anthem should the NFL require all to stand during the anthem, and according to a report Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews has a good idea of what he’d do if a rule was put in place.
According to ESPN, Matthews responded to fan’s question on Twitter by stating that he would “be done playing football” if the NFL were to put in place a rule that would require all players to stand. The tweet in question has since been deleted.
Last month Matthews, whose father served 23 years in the Marines and whose brother was killed in action while serving in the same branch of the military, was asked about the athlete’s role in discussing social issues last month.
“I’m tired of hearing, ‘Stick to sports.’ It comes down to right and wrong in this world,” Rishard Matthews told ESPN in September. “If you see wrong and don’t say anything, that’s wrong. As minorities, what do you want to happen before we say anything? They tried to have a silent protest, and look what happened. It’s your right to stand or sit down. You have that right, that freedom of speech, and you’re not allowing that to happen.”
During Week 3, the Titans were one of three teams that decided to stay in the locker room instead of take the field for the national anthem, with the Seattle Seahawks (their opponents that weekend) and Pittsburgh Steelers being the others. The uptick in demonstrations, be it kneeling or interlocking of arms while standing, came as a result of comments made by President Donald Trump about the NFL and those who have chosen to protest during the national anthem.
The protests were begun last August by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an attempt to bring more attention to issues such as systemic oppression, racism and police brutality.