Joyrenzia Cheatham, The Whetstone
Wesley College’s football players have talked about the controversy surrounding the 2017 NFL season – many black players taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.
No Wesley Wolverine has taken a knee this year.
Former Wesley football player Robert Wiggs said he thinks there would be consequences if Wesley players took a knee.
“If (Athletic Director and Head Coach) Drass saw anyone taking a knee, I believe he would get pressure from fans and boosters to discipline that player,” he said. “As the athletic director, it would make him look bad overall.”
Team captain Blake Roberts said he doesn’t think it would be a smart choice.
“I feel as if our coaches would not want that,” he said.
Cornerback DaJahn Lowery said that the coaches have not talked to players about it.
“If someone were to bring it up or kneel during the anthem, I do not think (Drass) would address it right away,” he said. “He would probably talk to them later about it or as a team before or after practice.”
Drass said no one on the team has asked him about it.
“Players can make their own decisions,” he said. “We have been in the locker room for half of the National Anthems, which is just how it worked out. I have not seen any NFL games. I am here at Wesley working.”
Wesley players have remained standing on the sidelines during the National Anthem and, at least at all of their home games, have not been in the locker room.
Lowery said players have talked about doing it.
“There are people on the team who talked about doing it but did not act on it,” he said. “I feel that we would need to have a serious conversation about it before doing it.”
Wide Receiver James Okike also said players talked about it.
“A few of us have talked about it just to see people’s opinion,” he said.
Roberts said he would not take a knee.
“I think there is a time and a place for everything and I am a part of a football team to play football,” he said. “We are all there for one goal and that is to win a national championship. As a D3 school and Wesley College, we should not get involved in those types of things.”
Lowery said he also would not take a knee.
“I honestly do not think Drass would care, but it would cause a commotion with the alumni,” he said.
Defensive End Vincent Ebron said he believes the NFL protests are not disrespectful.
“I believe the protests are peaceful and that if we do not agree with the laws and system that we follow we should make a stand,” he said. “It is a First Amendment right, such as burning a flag in Texas v. Johnson”
Okike said taking a knee is a First Amendment right.
“It is their right as Americans to show their freedom of speech,” he said. “It is not harming anyone it is just showing what you stand for.”
Student Alexis Waugh said it was a matter of principle.
“I think that it is good that the players are making a stand for something they believe in,” she said.
Cheerleader Autumn Brown said NFL players are doing what they feel is right.
“They believe that society needs a change and they are trying to bring light to a serious problem in America,” she said.
Student Sydney Brokenborough said the protests are being taken out of context.
“It is not disrespectful to the flag or veterans because it has nothing to do with them,” she said.
Lowery said that people were missing the message.
“People are saying that they are disrespecting the flag and solders that served and died when that is not the reason they are kneeling,” he said. “People who are veterans understand and agree with the players that are kneeling because they know that they are kneeling for equality in America and not to disrespect them.”
Student Zahra Marcus said she does not think there is a problem with the protests.
“There is meaning behind it,” she said. “They feel that there is injustice between African-Americans and the legal system. Everyone points out what is wrong with it but if they focused on fixing what they are protesting, there would not be a reason for them to protest.”
Taking a knee during the National Anthem began when Quarterback Colin Kaepernick did it while playing for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.
He is not playing now and is suing the NFL for collusion, because he believes he has been blackballed by the league.
During the 2017 season, players from the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Flacons, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills have taken a knee, sat, raised fists or locked arms during the anthem.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans opted to stay in the locker room during the anthem. Tensions got thicker when President Donald Trump said that players should be fired for “disrespecting the anthem,” causing more players to protest.